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Whether you scroll through Pinterest, flip through your favorite magazine, or see holiday ads on TV, perfect Christmases are popping up everywhere during the fall and winter months. While they are nice to look at and can serve as inspiration for your own holiday decorating, cooking, and gift giving, there’re hidden dangers in these depictions of a perfect Christmas that you need to be aware of.
Perfection Is Not Necessary at Christmas
The key word here is “perfect”. When you’re looking at these holiday images, there’s a real danger that you start to expect your own family Christmas to have the same look and feel. That’s about as realistic as wanting the perfect, airbrushed body that the model on the latest fitness or fashion magazine has. Coveting a magazine cover perfect Christmas will only lead to disappointment and feelings of inadequacy.
While we may intellectually know not to expect the perfect holiday display in a family with young children and pets, we may still subconsciously want it after seeing these perfect holiday visions all around us. Since we can’t realistically have a perfectly decorated home, or a color-coordinated tree with designer ornaments, we end up feeling disappointed when we look at the macaroni ornaments on our tree.
A Perfect Christmas: It’s a Trap!
When we fall into that trap, we miss out on a lot of what makes Christmas so special. It isn’t about perfection, gourmet food, and color-coordinated ornaments. It’s about sharing a special time of the year with our loved ones. It’s about sharing memories and making new ones. It is about baking cookies, giving gifts, singing Christmas songs, hanging lights, sipping hot chocolate, and making beautiful handmade ornaments with the kids. It’s about being a messy, loud, and happy family enjoying Christmas together.
Just Enjoy the Holiday
Don’t let this idea of perfection take the joy of the holidays out of you. Go bake some cookies and make a big mess. Hang those construction paper ornaments with pride. Get out all the kitschy little decorations that remind you of your childhood. Crank up those holiday’tunes and then nestle up in the couch with some hot chocolate and sugar cookies to watch “The Year without a Santa Claus”. Who cares that there are crumbs in the blanket and one of the lights on your tree is out? What counts is that you’re having a good time. This year, instead of a perfect Christmas, try to embrace coziness, happiness, and love.
When you feel yourself falling into the trap of wanting a perfect Christmas, think back on your favorite childhood holiday memories. I bet it wasn’t about having the perfect tree or nativity display that couldn’t be touched. Instead, our most precious memories are things like baking cookies, making ornaments, or singing Christmas Carols at the top of our lungs.
But Sometimes Christmas Sucks. That’s OK
Life comes in seasons. Some years are wonderful with few worries and plenty of everything. Others are leaner, more troublesome, and just plain sad. In the good years, the holidays are a lot of fun, but during the sad times, we may not have anything close to a perfect Christmas or even like Christmas, and that’s OK.
Too Much Pressure During Christmas
There’s a lot of pressure put on us my media and society alike to put on a smile be “merry and bright” during the holidays. As a rule, we’re magically supposed to be in a good mood on Christmas and striving for a perfect Christmas no matter what’s going on in our lives or around us. Yes, you should hide your pain and sorrow and smile through the tears for your kids. Of course, you don’t want to ruin Christmas for those around you. But let’s face it, sometimes life sucks and when it happens around Christmas, it’s hard to put on a show of good cheer.
You May Feel Bad During the Holiday and Can’t Hide it
There’s nothing wrong with being sad around the holidays. If you’re recently lost a loved one and are facing your first Christmas without them, it’s perfectly normal and healthy to be sad. You miss them, and not being able to share such a wonderful time of the year with this special person makes it harder to feel joy and happiness. When something does put a smile on your face, you may even feel guilty.
Maybe you lost your job a few weeks ago and can’t give your kids the gifts they’ve been asking Santa for, for instance. Perhaps a relationship fell apart and you’re still trying to figure out what your life looks like now. Lots of different stressful things can happen that will take a lot of the joy out of Christmas. And that’s ok. Despite the picture TV shows, movies, and the perfect Christmas stories paint, our troubles don’t magically go away come Christmas Eve. We’re still grieving, broke, and feeling lost. And that’s OK.
As we know, life isn’t always perfect. It’s messy, complicated, sad, and sometimes just plain sucks – even on Christmas.
Do The Best You Can: It Counts!
My best advice when you’re having a tough time during the holidays is this. Don’t feel pressured to put yourself in a good mood. Don’t expect to feel better all of sudden. Get through the holidays the best you can. Do what you need to do for the little ones, and then go and have a good cry. Be mad, be sad, or be angry. Feel what you need to feel to get through this hard period in life.
However, do what you can to give your loved ones a good Christmas, and chances are doing so will help cheer you up as well, no matter how big the challenges you’re facing. It’s often these unusual Christmases that will stand out and matter most to your little ones.
But also remember this. Things will look up and there are many happy days and happy Christmases ahead. Remember the good times and know in your heart that better times are yet to come.
Loving Life–The Reboot!