December 11, 2014

Perfection is Highly Overrated

I'm my own worst enemy. My intention was to start pulling out the Christmas decorations Thanksgiving night instead of the day after, as I usually do, but the unexpected snowstorm and power outage made me slow down...just a little. I also scheduled a family visit that weekend which took away one of my decorating days. I kept telling myself that the decorating would keep and seeing family was more important, and it is. Guess who was up at 4:00 a.m. decorating the tree before everyone was awake the next day?

The past couple of yearsbecause these were the girls last Christmases before collegeI've been especially preoccupied with making sure everything is just right. That's why I was up at 4:00 in the morning. Kate loves Christmas and she was headed back to a sterile, no-decorations-allowed dorm. I wanted to her have at least one day to enjoy the tree before she returned to school.

When the Christmas movies started to air right after Halloween, I gladly planted my butt on the couch each evening and promptly fell asleep beside Amanda, happy and relaxed. But that was short-lived. Despite my best intentions, and even though I have let a few things go, I've been feeling guilty about not making a gingerbread house, cooking more real dinners, and not making everything just so. When are my girls and I going to have our Christmas tea? And I should really have the neighbors over for dinner.

This is the time of year when my perfectionistic tendencies start to creep their way back in. (That's why I call myself a recovering perfectionistit's never far from the surface.) I've always set high standards for myself, but those standards are now expected from my adoring family. The worst part is, I've created two mini-me's. Oh boy. I hope that I can at least talk my girls down from the ceiling when they're experiencing their own bouts of perfectionitis.

I've been down this road before. I've driven circles around this road before. And yet I can't seem to remember from one year to the next to just...stop. The season is over far too quickly as it is and I just have to give myself a break. My mother even suggested that I don't send out Christmas cards this year (gasp!). But this is from a woman who mails her cards before Thanksgiving so that you're sure to receive it the day after. I don't think she's in the right frame of mind to be handing out advice.

Instead, I'm going to take a lesson from my, now, permanently bent trees in my backyard. Just because they're no longer standing straight doesn't mean they're not still beautiful. To me, they are perfectly imperfect. And that's what I'm striving for this holiday season.

You may also enjoy Perfectly Imperfect, I'm a Traditionalist, and a very funny essay from my friend and fellow writer, Wendy: To read or not to read - My Christmas Tree Story.


Wendy E Wrzos said...

Hi Kim,

I loved this post! I am also a recovering perfectionist, and the holidays definitely test me as well.
I can feel the perfectionist in me surface, usually when I am tired or feel overwhelmed, which makes no sense! Then the guilt sets in, and everything else that you wrote about.
You said it "perfectly", and for now I have resolved to try and be happy doing just as much as I can (taking short cuts when I need to, and knowing that I am in good company with my fellow recovering perfectionist's :-)
Thank you for the lovely post!
- Wendy

Kimberly Merritt said...

Thank you, Wendy. This was the post I was writing when I stopped to read yours! Life lessons... Have a wonderful Christmas!