Approaching the Holidays

Christmas is my absolute favorite.  I went to college in my hometown, so over Thanksgiving break, when all of my roommates traveled home, I would enjoy the day with my family and then return to our apartment to decorate.  The other girls would get back on Sunday night to find that Christmas had thrown up all over the place.  Cast-off decor from my parents' house became vintage chic in our small space.  I believed then, and still believe, that everything looks better under the glow of twinkle lights.

Fast-forward almost 15 years, and I am still guilty of Christmas vomit, only now it is my children who delight in my addiction.  I kind of pride myself on being pretty chill when it comes to the "Pinterest-Extra Mom" world, but I realized this year that although I shy away from the magazine-ready decor and shiplap perfection, I am still guilty of setting my own standards for the season.  And inevitably, I fall short, have to alter plans, or otherwise disappoint myself.

This year, it was our family pictures.  Each October, as soon as I'm done getting our family costumes together (ok, I'm a little extra there...) I start assembling our outfits for family pictures.  I agonize over the right mix of colors, patterns and accessories, book the photographer, and get ready for our backyard masterpiece.  (ALWAYS in our backyard so our two pups can be in the picture too.)  This year was no different.  Except the weather would not cooperate.  Twice, I had to reschedule due to torrential downpours.  Then, the week that the weather finally cooperated, our family came down with the plague.  I swear I'm not exaggerating.  It was the. worst.  Everyone got a bucket and gatorade.  So of course, no pictures.

No lie, as I sat there recuperating and trying to care for three sick kids (and as my husband lay dying) I thought to myself, "This is terrible.  Christmas is ruined."  Yep, I told you I was prone to hyperbole.  Christmas was ruined before Thanksgiving even came around, guys.  I know how ridiculous that sounds now, but I swear to you, as the tears ran down my cheeks, I truly believed it.  (The sleep deprivation might have had something to do with it, too.)  When I finally put on my big girl pants and figured out an easy solution (e.g. hiring the high schooler and hobby photographer next door to take a couple of pictures), I was able to take a step back and realize that it was me, and only me, whose expectations were making me feel so defeated.  Do my kids care if we have a coordinating family picture this year?  Would it be the end of the world to use vacation photos on this years Christmas card?  Of course, the answer is no.

I know I am not the only parent out here in the trenches shooting for their own version of perfection this holiday season.  Whether it's the family picture, or the elf on the shelf, or that impossible gift that you have to find for your kid (seriously, Fingerlings??) or just trying to cross off everything on your Christmas bucket list, I propose we give ourselves a break this year.  Whatever you manage, it is enough.  You are enough.

I came across this amazing song by Sara Bareilles and it was such a God moment for me.  I needed to hear it and I think since that first listen, I have played it at least once every single day.  It is my mantra this Christmas, and maybe you can make it yours too.

"Why so scared that you’ll mess it up? When perfection keeps you haunted
All we need is your best my love, that’s all anyone ever wanted"

Wow.  If that isn't spot on what I needed to hear, I'm not sure what is.  

My other favorite line is, "I don't care if the carpet's stained, we've got food upon our table." How many times have I looked around my home and wished that things were newer or better, especially at Christmas when I want everything to be at its best.  But the fact is, I have everything I need.  We are healthy, and as I constantly try to remind myself, someone else is happy with less than what we have.  And hey - at least we have twinkle lights.

Emily Ramquist