So the holidays are here again complete with cookies, festivities, family and more. Every year I work my butt off to make Christmas an “experience” for my kids, to make sure they have “good memories” to look back on. You know, the standard perfectionist control-freak kind of thing.
On Christmas Eve I surrounded myself with bows, rolls of pretty paper galore, and sticky labels that wouldn’t peel off the damn sheet. I swear I looked ridiculous trying to pull those things off – they were absurdly stuck. It was rather hilarious at one point as I had several peeled and stuck to the table just so I wouldn’t have to do that again!
Instead of wrapping late into the night I was being smart and doing it early. Not realizing how this was creeping into the “big traditional plan” I had for the night. I’d intended for everyone to gather to make a last batch of cookies, watch a holiday movie, drink cocoa and open the Christmas Eve gift. Usually PJs but this year I went easy – hoodies all around. Much simpler.
My perfectionist challenges in fact caused so much stress that it eventually caused me to simply lose my shit. I’m not kidding. I melted down in the face of all the stress I’d been putting myself under. I mean tears and everything – it all felt like too much. My wife finally just confronted me and forced me to look at all the expectations I was putting on myself AND my family. It was an overwhelming pressure on all of us.
So what did I do? Well I backed off. A lot. I still worried if there would be “enough” presents and candies and such. I fretted over the stockings and whether they were set up just right and if the pile of presents around the tree was organized just right. However, in the end even that became too much to bear and I just let up. On myself and those around me.
Remember Christmas Eve? Well we ended up with no cocoa, cereal for dinner, and a super casual evening – almost like every other night with the added exception of gifts. So no major memories made I’m sure but in the end at least the kids didn’t have a frazzled mom this time around and frankly that’s got to count for something. Besides, we all had fun so hey, it’s gotta be good on some level.
My lesson? Well that’s simple: Keep it Simple Silly! See? A little KISS can go a long way toward maintaining sanity in this often chaotic season.