A Good Enough Christmas

I have to say, I love Red’s list, and I love her “get it done while staying sane” attitude towards the Holidays.  When I look at that list, I realize that there are really so many things that need to get done to prepare for a family Christmas celebration.  I have streamlined my list quite a bit, and I try to do some things early, but every year I wind up in trouble by mid December.  One of the main reasons that I have not been able to follow a list like that in the past is not procrastination, as others might think, but rather perfectionism.  The thing about checking something off the list is that you have to accept that the task is done to a reasonable standard and move on.  I tend to think that somewhere, out there, is a better gift at a better price, or that I should just try one more photo shoot to get the perfect holiday picture.  I pick new menu items and add new traditions because whatever we did last year could be a tiny bit better, and I wind up scrambling at the last minute.

This year, I resolve to stop the insanity.  We ordered our Christmas cards tonight.  They’ll arrive in about a week and I’ll have a few days to write them before sending them out at a reasonable time.  I didn’t have to pay extra for rush shipping and I won’t have to stay up until midnight addressing them all in one day because I worked with pictures that I already had and just gave myself permission for it to be good enough.

I put some gifts into online shopping baskets and — this is rare for me — actually finished the order.  My brother’s baby will get what I ordered, my boys will have those Christmas ties and not some other ones, and the Christmas pajamas will be made from the fabric we selected when we were in the store today.  I will not go on wild goose chases and add stress to my holidays by thinking that perfection is just around the next corner.

Sometimes the imperfect is pretty perfect.  We set up our tree here at the mountains, it is artificial (because we will not be at the house during the week, so we need a safe tree), and it is smaller than I wanted, but as it turns out it looks better than any tree we have ever had — because it is small, it is overfull with ornaments and has a luxurious feel to it.  After it was all set up we changed our minds and decided that we probably do want a tree at home as well.  I didn’t cry and I didn’t take down and repack the ornaments.  I am going to buy a large set of plain, single color ornaments at a big box store and I bet that “good enough” tree will be beautiful, too.

This is not my Christmas picture, it didn’t fit on the format of the card.

  • http://www.buildingcathedrals.com Katrina

    MA, I’ve also learned this lesson over the years! It’s amazing how stressful the Christmas prep can be – in our American culture, I feel like there is this pressure to find the “best” deals all of the time. It’s as if buying something full price is a sin! My husband always says that “time is money,” and I would also add that “time is sanity and healthy.” Sometimes, it’s just worth it to pay full price if it means that it will save a couple hours of Internet or in-store searching!
    I will also add that even when I am making the conscious effort to relax, my body gets very tense during busy times. This past week, I was in charge of cooking Thanksgiving dinner. I was excited to be doing this, and enjoyed all of the cooking and prep work. However, I was nervous about the turkey, and my neck and head ached for the days leading up to Thursday. I had to take several Aleve a day to keep the migraine away! This is crazy, but once the turkey was cooked, the tension disappeared and I felt great again!
    Are you up in the mountains already? Enjoy your time with your sweet family!

  • Kellie “Red”

    I’m just seeing this today because for some reason none of the posts are coming through on my google reader, must be something about the format change at Patheos?

    Anyway, I completely agree with you that we cannot allow these things to be perfect. GET IT DONE! Saving $10 here or getting something slightly better there isn’t’ worth it. Your sanity is the price! If you have serious perfectionist tendencies, try having a “buddy” hold you accountable. My husband makes sure I don’t stress too much about gifts by continually reminding me to just order it! And remember, anything worth doing is worth doing badly ;-) Great insights here MA!

  • Ana

    This couldn’t have been your Christmas picture! Your baby is missing on it…

  • JMB

    I stress less and less about Christmas because I realized a few years ago that my kids don’t really remember much about it at all, except for the time that they spend with their cousins, aunts, uncles and grand parents. The rest – the food, the decorations, the Christmas cards, the cookies, and yes, even the presentts, kind of all blend into one long memory of what our family is, and does for the holiday. So lighten it up, and don’t worry about the Christmas cards – I get less and less of them every year and that’s ok – Facebook and email and pictures galore have made it less of a novelty.


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