What Our Families Really Want For Christmas

In my last post, “3 Things to do in November To Prepare For Christmas” I wrote about how to welcome the Holidays Stress-free. As a professional procrastinator in training, my goal this year was to feel organized and prepared. To be intentional with my time and energy and create memorable experiences with my family over the Holidays. Sadly, in the midst of all the well-intentioned planning, we invite the Grinch. Aka. perfectionism.

In my mind, perfectionism is like the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, it can steal the joy right out of you if you let it. In a perfect world, we have the house decorated, gifts purchased and wrapped, freshly baked cookies on the ready and Christmas cards sent out all by the first week of December. But the truth is we are Mom’s and not Santa’s elves.

What I truly believe we and our families want for Christmas is what we all grew up loving about Christmas. The connections with our loved ones. The food and the touch of magic sprinkled around us. Back then, we took photographs to capture the essence of our “togetherness”, not the insta-worthy moments we so anxiously hope to produce. To clarify, I am not opposed to beautifully curated images. I love dreaming, creating and composing images and part of my work requires that I create special moments in a staged environment. I label this as “work” and plan accordingly.

One of the dangers of creating “perfect moments” however, is falling prey to perfectionism in our daily lives. I struggle with this when reality hits me square in the face with nothing but raw Motherhood moments. Think diaper explosions and piles of dirty dishes. Flawed? Yes. Imperfect? Most definitely, but in retrospect, and through rose coloured lenses, the words the come to mind are “humbling” and “fulfilling”. It’s rewarding to know you are raising the future. And you know what else is rewarding? The look on my girl’s faces when perfectionism goes out the window. Goodbye Grinch. Hello, presence, connection, and authenticity. This I know, is the greatest gift I could give my family.

My fondest memories of Christmas were at my grandma’s house when I was little. Her home during the Holidays was hands down my favourite place on earth. Beyond the colourful lights and her amazing heirloom nativity set, what made her place so memorable was simply, her. Her infectious joy and positivity turned Lima’s foggiest December days into pure sunshine. She was magic. She was the reason we would have an unforgettable Christmas every time we’d visit. This year, I want to be more like her.

  • This year I choose mindfulness. I choose to look after myself and stay in balance. I will prioritize my health and well- being to be the best version of myself for my family.
  • This year I will focus on joy and connection with loved ones rather than shopping, and mindless consumerism.
  • This year I will look around and count my blessings for everything good in my life. Even for the things I often overlook. Like the crammed closet space in our condo. It stores the clothes we’re lucky enough to have.
  • This year I will say no to Comparison. No to unreasonably high expectations. No to anything that takes the joy away from the present moment with my kids and husband for the sake of ‘sharing the moment’ on social media. If you are doing what seems right for you and your family that is more than enough.
  • This year I will look at myself through loving eyes. When I feel myself spiraling into a frenzy of overwhelming emotions, I will fall into grace, hug my children and regroup my thoughts.
  • This year I will be ready, mentally and emotionally for all the things that will inevitably go wrong. Cue the toddler meltdowns at church, uncoordinated family outfits, the last minute-everything, and a home that no matter what, will attract mess and chaos. I will be ready to greet these less than perfect moments with laughter and grace.

This year I want to give up on perfectionism and accept that real parents are not professional event planners. Real parents get real Holidays. We get messy kitchens, cranky kids, broken ornaments, un-instagrammable cookies, hot- mess gift wrapping and kids who just won’t smile for a single family photo. I hope you see we are all navigating the season together. To believe our lives should be lived in a pristine snowglobe is not only inaccurate, but it is also damaging. Let us ride the highs and lows of the season with humanity. We owe it to our families to be the joy that warms their hearts.

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