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Perfecting Christmas

Affirmation:  I let go of perfection.

Christmas is almost upon us.  At this writing there are only 2 days left.  My entire family will be here, all our children, all our grandchildren, all the in-laws and both of our mothers.  There might even be a few coming of whom I’m not aware.  I feel blessed to be surrounded by so many loving people and the really good news is everyone usually likes everyone else.  I am also blessed because I have the good health and the energy to do everything I like to do for Christmas. 

I love to decorate the house.  I would like to leave my Christmas tree up all year long.  I love having red sparkly and gold glitzy things all around.  It makes me feel warm and enlivened.  I love to put together the Christmas cards and I love to snail mail them out to all the people on my list.  I like recalling the memories associated with each one as I write their names and try to take enough time to say a small blessing over each envelope.  I usually send a photo card and I love to go through the year’s photos, re-live the memories and choose the best picture of each person.  I also like to do a photo family calendar.  I was so excited the first time I saw such a thing.  I knew it would be something I would try.  The first year, it took me days to get it done.  The good news is now it only takes hours.  I’m sure someday I’ll be even more efficient but it’s OK either way.  I love going over the year’s photos and putting different memories on each monthly page and then putting my loved one’s photos in the date box of their birthday. 

In the South Christmas starts the day after Thanksgiving.  Yes, it starts much earlier in the stores; earlier and earlier each year and some of my neighbors have their houses decorated before Thanksgiving.  But, for many of us here in North Carolina, at least in the area I live in, the decorations go up Thanksgiving weekend.  I love that too.  I get to enjoy the festive sprit in my home for about a month. 
But, even though I am crazy about all the activies involved in our celebration, I can stress out.  Yes, there is good stress and there is bad stress but stress is stress and it can be exhausting.  Most of our traditions seem to be activities that I have taken on as my responsibility.  I purchase most of the gifts.  I plan the menu.  I buy most of the food.  I wrap most of the presents.  You can probably add to the list.  Most women reading this probably have many other items for which they feel responsible.  I usually handle most of our activities fairly well unless life happens.  You know about life.  Life is what happens in between all our plans.  
I like order.  I like things neat and clean.  There are times when I’m sure my desire for order borders on obsessive-compulsive.  But, the truth is there is only so much time and energy and money and at some point, I have to let some things slide.  It’s a requirement to maintain my mental and physical health.  I have several artist friends and they occasionally speak about what happens to their art work when they strive for perfection.  They add one more dab of paint, one more stroke of the brush, one more line to the drawing or one more turn to the potter’s wheel and they have ruined their work.  From them, I have taken the lesson that while I strive to do my best, I cannot always expect perfection from myself.  When I do that, I will consistently ruin my work and ruin the enjoyment I take from the process.  I must tell myself, “I let go of perfection.”  The more I practice releasing myself from unrealistic expectations, the more joyful I am.  The more I practice letting go of going for the gold, the more relaxed I am.  And, when I can be centered and calm, my Christmas, my life and the life of many of those around me is filled with the things that are truly important to me and to the world; peace, love, joy, compassion and gratitude. 
May you and your loved ones have a Blessed Christmas, a Happy Holiday season and a Happy New Year.