December 1, 2010

Ah, The Holiday Season...

With Halloween and Thanksgiving firmly behind us, and Christmas and New Year’s Eve on the horizon (and Hanukkah already here), we'll pile even more on to the “to-do” list and add to our already harried schedules.

The decorating, cooking, shopping, and all of the festivities we plan to attend, can leave us drained and reaching for that holiday ideal that just doesn’t exist. Each year we stress ourselves out, stretch our budgets to the max, and walk the thin line between reality and fantasy that, frankly, leaves us wondering “why?”, or screaming declarations of “never again!”

I’m just as guilty as the next person. I’ve always had great expectations this time of year. I have made promises to myself in the past that this is the year I will fill my home with so much holiday cheer that everyone who enters will be as jolly as an elf. I envision a Norman Rockwell, picture-perfect celebration with hand-made gifts (should have started them in June), tins filled with Christmas cookies and yummy gifts from the kitchen (there are never enough chocolate chips in the house), and the perfectly decorated home – that only takes 3 full days to pull off!

The ghost of Christmas past reminds me of the year the oven door broke – one of my first as host to my husband’s large family – and a stick was needed to keep the door closed. Guests were milling about, while I dodged a wooden dowel firmly planted on the kitchen floor and wedged under the handle. Charming. Our very first Christmas in New Hampshire had me rushing to a friend’s home, 45 minutes away, to pre-cook our meal two days before because the 3rd oven we ordered still had not come back converted correctly for gas cooking. On Christmas day I microwaved turkey and all the trimmings. Or perhaps you’ll chuckle at the time I had 16 for dinner and 16 overnight guests because we all got snowed in. By the next morning, I was ready to run screaming into the woods. And just last year, my youngest daughter and I watched my beloved tree crash into the center of the room destroying several heirloom ornaments. (My tree is now nailed into the floor!) All unique but memorable - one year as imperfect as the other.

So instead of striving for that perfect holiday, keep it simple. If something doesn't get done, or if only half of your decorations are up, so what. Let yourself off the hook. Then start a new tradition this year, and exchange comical stories of holidays past to lighten your mood. The season is not about presents or trees or parties, it's about spending time with family and creating memories that will last a lifetime. And guess what? I’m actually following my own advice for a change. I think this recovering perfectionist might actually have a very, merry Christmas after all.

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BonjourRomance said...

Bonjour Kimberly,

Your Newsletter is fantastic. Your story about entertaining your husband's large family and your tree crashing down...your attitude is wondeful. It is so important to remember the truly important things the priority, and not worry so much about all the little things that can and usually do go wrong.

Enjoy the season,

Kimberly Merritt said...

Thank you Mimi. I hope you're enjoying all of the snow over there. Send some my way please!

Have a wonderful holiday.