There’s a commercial on the radio station that’s always on in our home. I don’t recall the details but it says, in preparation for Christmas “everything has to be just right.” After hearing this for several days, Raine asked, “Does everything really have to be just right for Christmas?”
Perfectionism is not something I’ve ever fallen into. Nor is it a mindset I encourage. “No,” I answered, “Christmas doesn’t have to be just right.”
Still how easy it is to get caught up in the mindset of making everything glorious and wonderful. Today is Christmas Eve. It’s 9am and both of my kids have been in time out. Athena peeled paint off the bedrooms doors I recently repainted. Raine has lied about a few things and has a very bad attitude.
This is when the guilt creeps in. “I’m ruining Christmas for my kids!” a voice says. “They’ll be scarred for life! Christmas will always be remembered negatively!” Then the voice of reason sets in. Christmas Eve and Christmas day are two days in the midst of many that we have shared and will share as a family. Like any day, they’re made up of a series of moments and a variety of experiences. So far today there have been lows but there will also be highs. Hopefully, my kids will remember the consistency that brings stability to their lives. If they are destructive there is a consequences whether it’s Christmas Eve or any other ordinary day. If they lie and speak rudely to me the result is not a favourable one. That behaviour is not ok on Christmas any more than it is another day of the year.
In years past, I often gave in to that persistent pressure telling me everything needed to be just right. I wanted us, in our state of foster/adoptive family, to be perfectly happy. Year after year, that just didn’t happen. Holidays are hard for those grieving. Foster children and adoptive children live in various levels of grief. Christmas can be a glaring reminder that they are without the family they were born to. Often the hype of the holidays makes that loss more apparent than it is on other days. As a foster mom, I’m starting with several strikes against me as I try to conform to society’s view of this wonderful celebration.
This year, we don’t have any foster children residing with us. Still the increased consumption of sugary treats is making spirits less than bright in our house. Grief is likely also a factor. It’s hard to know because kids can’t always express what’s happening inside of them.
Let me warn you – today and tomorrow will not be picture perfect at every turn. Hopefully there will be some good times that I manage to capture for posterity. And hopefully what Raine and Athena remember is that I love them and that love compels me to parent them wholeheartedly regardless of the day.
Christmas really is a day like most others. It’s an opportunity to come together and choose to love in the midst of imperfections. It’s a time to appreciate the gift of family and friends who embrace us for who we are. In prophesying about Jesus’ arrival on earth, Isaiah declared Him to be the Prince of Peace. Today and tomorrow, I’ll be focusing on pushing away the pressure to have everything just right. I will be working to embrace peace. Perfection may be a goal you’re able to achieve. For me it’s too elusive. So I will enjoy the highs and make it through the lows. And we will celebrate Christmas honestly and without any lofty expectations. I’m ok with that.