Holiday Perfection? Stop Should-ing Yourself
Why, oh, WHY do the holidays always seem to sneak up on me? On one hand, I anticipate them for months. I dream dreams of Christmas cookies, stocking stuffers, and staying in PJs for days on end. But then suddenly. . . BAM. . . Thanksgiving comes and goes, and we’re off to the races.
I watch my Instagram feed fill with beautifully decorated mantels and happy families cutting down Christmas trees. With gusto, I dig my decorations out of storage. But instead of creating a winter wonderland, the boxes sit by my front door for days. They stare at me mockingly, “You’re not doing Christmas right. No Elf on the Shelf. No lights on the front porch. A manger scene that still hasn’t made it out of the box.”
The guilt settles on my shoulders like a weighted blanket: “I’m failing my family. I’m failing Christmas.” And just like that, a season meant to celebrate the Prince of Peace bows down instead to the Prince of Pinterest. I am filled with “shoulds.”
. . . I should have planned the perfect, pristine Christmas tree. One that we cut down from an obliging forest—and not just one. A themed tree for EVERY room of the house.
. . . I should make Christmas pajama pants for the boys. No wait. . . for ALL of us. With shirts to match. I should make extras and sell them online to make some holiday money. Yes. This is GENIUS. I should go into business making PJ pants.
. . . I should really send out Christmas cards. We moved this year. Again. No one will know where we live anymore. Sure, we printed them and never sent them last year. But THIS YEAR will be different.
There are about 1,792,334 ways we can “should” ourselves right into a stressed-out, distressed mess this holiday season. And for what? A hurried and harried Christmas measured not by time spent together or tales of Christ’s birth but by the unattainable quest for perfect cookies, decorations, gifts, and glory.
Now let me be clear: None of these activities are harmful on their own, but when we move from “wanting” to do them to “should-ing” ourselves into them, we rob ourselves of the joy of this season. We’re all prone to playing the comparison game, especially around the holidays, so let me give you a piece of advice, a saying my husband and I have for these moments:
Stop should-ing yourself.
In fact, let’s take the word should out of our vocabularies for the next few weeks. Instead of turning to Pinterest or your next-door neighbor or the talented Joanna Gaines to measure your Christmas success, determine instead what YOU want out of this season. If it helps, make a list of goals or a vision statement that’s unique to you, and make that your standard.
For me, I’m prioritizing plenty of unscheduled space, snuggles with my boys around the Christmas tree, and figuring out how our family can better appreciate and duplicate the generosity God showed us that first Christmas. And if that means putting a few unpacked boxes of decorations back into storage, then so be it.
feature photo credit: public domain via pixabay