An Imperfectly Merry Christmas

It has been awhile. I know. I have been super busy, so I have a lot to update here on the blog. If you are looking for something crafty, there is not so much of that in this post. However, I feel the need to do more writing about real life.

In November, I was asked to be a part of a MOPS panel on Holiday traditions and encouraging thankfulness and kindness in our children. I did mention some of the things that our family does, but I also confessed many of the ways I have messed up over the years struggling to keep up with traditions that weren't working and striving for Pinterest-worthy Christmas perfection. I have come to realize that I need to simplify many areas of my life.

A few weeks later, a last-minute, long term subbing position came up at the elementary school. I thought it sounded like fun and a good challenge for me! I love staying home with my youngest, but this was only for a few weeks leading up until Christmas and it helped our family financially.

There were so many things that I never saw coming...

First, I remembered how much I miss teaching!

Second, I am now a coffee drinker.

Third, there were some extra challenges for our family. I knew it would be hard and that we would all have to pitch in to make it work. Oh, but we faced trials that left me scratching my head and wondering why I ever thought I should take this position. Seriously. It was the worst possible timing. I was broken and humbled, stressed out and reduced to tears. But, I had to put it aside and put on a smile for my class because that is what they needed.

On my last day, I mentioned my pefectionistic tendencies and someone was surprised that I still had any of that left with having six children. It dawned on me that with so many of the things I had been going through, I had no other choice but to let go of some of my perfectionism over the past few weeks. I can see that more and more of it has been chipping away over time, with a larger chunk knocked off more recently.

christmas mess

For our school's Christmas Around the World, we presented the country of Italy. One of the things that we taught the students was about the legend of La Befana. Here is the gist of it... La Befana was an old woman who was very dedicated to cleaning her house. The three wise men stopped to ask directions to Bethlehem and invited her to come with them to see the Christ Child. She was too busy sweeping her house, so she declined. However, that night when she saw the great light in the sky she realized her mistake. She grabbed a bag with some toys that had belonged to her own child and ran to catch up with the wise men. She ran so fast that she began to fly on her broomstick. She never could find the Christ Child, so instead she leaves gifts in the stockings of the children of Italy each year.

This really made me think. I may not be consumed with having a perfectly clean house (a great housekeeper I am not!), but I do get wrapped up in my tasks and my quest for perfection in other areas instead of seeking Christ.

Last year, I ruined Christmas Eve for my family with a meltdown/tantrum that involved my failure to sew new stockings, a poor movie choice by others, an attempted new tradition of Christmas pajamas that were opened without me, complete flipping out, tears, and apologies. It was MY FAULT, MY PERFECTIONISM, MY SELFISHNESS. I promised myself that this year would be better.

But, to do that, I had to let go and simplify.

Instead of stockings, which I still haven't made, I stuffed everything in gift bags. I even let the kids help wrap each others' gifts (although they were threatened to maintain secrecy). It was a way for the girls and I to get some one-on-one time together on Christmas Eve Eve and they loved being in on the Christmas secrets. We had a Merry Christmas!

gift bag stockings

How to wrap earmuffs!

I hardly did any decorating. I let the kids put things wherever they wanted. Less hassle for me. More fun for them. My pumpkins and mums were still on the porch up until Christmas Day, when the boys took the pumpkins away... to use them for target practice. My poinsettia lost all of its leaves, but the girls liked seeing the new growth on it and won't let me throw it out. Even without fabulous decorations, we STILL had a Merry Christmas!

leaves fell off of the ponsettia

I hand delivered a lot of our Christmas cards and the rest were last-minute or late. I am sure the recipients did not love them any less and I bet they still had a Merry Christmas!

I started decorating our tree with colored lights and changed my mind halfway through. Then, the white lights stopped working on half of the strand. I planned to fix it later, but while I was upstairs, the girls decorated it. The ribbon was perfectly spaced, but the few ornaments they put on did not match. I never had time to fix it, so we were left with a very original tree that made people smile. It was still a MERRY CHRISTMAS!

half colored lights and half white lights on the tree

So, things might be a hot mess around here, but letting go of my own ridiculous ideas and perfectionism feels so freeing. I am so grateful for even those awful trials that helped me to simplify this year!

Merry Christmas!