Ahhh, the joys of Christmas. The smell of freshly cut Christmas trees, immaculate decorations throughout towns small and large, beautifully wrapped gifts, and a lingering feeling of peace and tranquility. It’s that picture perfect, Hallmark-like Christmas scene we all strive to achieve every single year. But what about when it’s not so #perfect?
One of my favorite Christmas memories that perfectly illustrates this (and that coincidentally has become a treasured family tradition) happened when I was about 9 years old. It was Christmas Eve, and my family was getting ready to go to church as we always have every Christmas Eve before. However, on this particular night, my parents forgot to plan out a meal for afterwards. Everyone was running around and stressing about what to cook, when I looked in the pantry and said, “Hey, let’s just have spaghetti and red velvet cake!”. They all looked at each other, conversing with their eyes, until finally my mom said “Okay, we can do that. Spaghetti and red velvet cake.” So we went to church, came home, had spaghetti and red velvet cake, talked until we were laughing with tears, and ended up having one of the best Christmases ever. Now every year we make spaghetti and red velvet cake, and it would feel out of place if we didn’t, all because one year we didn’t have an elaborate menu planned.
“The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.” – Alan W. Watts
It seems as though our culture has put this enormous pressure to over-deliver and be extra-perfect during the Christmas season, and because of this, we have a tendency to get not so holly jolly if things don’t go exactly according to our perfect plans. Over the years, I’ve found that the best and most memorable Christmases happen when you throw your plans off of the rooftop (I’m really killing it with these Christmas puns) and just truly enjoy the moment you’re in with the people you love. I know that sounds super sappy, and it is. But trust me when I say that you’re not going to look back in 50 years and remember the elaborate meal you had or the photo you posted to your social media accounts. You’re going to remember the people you were with and the special moments you shared with them.
“Do more things that make you forget to check your phone.” – Anonymous
While it’s hard enough for people to learn how to “go with the flow” when plans go awry, the digital world seems to make that task even more hard. Looking through all of the ~totally candid~ Insta feeds this time of year (or any time of year really, but that’s another blog post in itself) can be extremely frustrating and make you feel like you’re inadequate and doing it all wrong. Wow, Becky looks so perfect in front of that Christmas tree with her festive pj’s and Santa mug of hot chocolate. Man, Will just proposed to Sarah with a 2 carat diamond in the mountains of Aspen. Dang, Susie made an entire nine course meal for her family of 500 in her Ralph Lauren decorated dining room. Okay, maybe the last one was a bit of a stretch, but you get the point I’m making. Social media tends to fuel the “It’s the holiday season so everything has GOT to be perfect” mantra that we’ve all seemed to adopt. Having said this, it’s also important to remember that social media is a highlight reel (that’s most often not real). A seemingly perfect photo is never indicative of a perfect life, and it’s important to remember that and not fall prey to the comparison game.
So no, your life probably doesn’t look like that Hallmark movie you’ve watched for the 17th time. But neither does Becky’s or even Susie and her nine course meal. And that’s perfectly fine. Isn’t that the whole point of Christmas anyway? (I mean even Mary and Joseph had to ditch their plans and improvise a new one for the savior to be born, and I highly doubt she would’ve subtweeted about it.) Just remember to breathe and be calm when plans change, don’t stress about getting the perfect picture for Insta, hug that family member a little tighter, enjoy the perfect imperfections that come with being human, and thank God that our Savior was born.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices!
Merry Christmas Eve everyone!