My family believes strongly in cutting down a real tree for Christmas. If we had a family manifesto, our stance on this would surely be written in ink. What is Christmas without the smell of real pine wafting through your house for the entire month of December? We are those people. The ones that load up the entire family into the car the weekend after Thanksgiving and head off to a Christmas tree farm in search of the perfect tree. We trounce through the snow inspecting each one. Some only get a glance from us, they are too skinny, or too short, or too sparse, and our eyes quickly skip to the next candidate. Those that, upon quick inspection, meet the basic criteria, are then moved into an elimination round. When we’ve narrowed it down to our top 2 or 3 trees, we then move into family voting. Every person gets one vote and whichever tree receives the most votes, wins.
I admit that last year things took a turn for the worse when, after promising our daughter the year before that she could have the final say, my husband went rogue and trumped her tree choice with his veto power. It took her to the ground in tears and ruined the whole experience for all of us.
Sometimes, in our quest for perfection, we trample down all the joy in the process.
We didn’t go into the tree selection process thinking it would end with Hannah on the ground in tears. We just wanted the most perfect Christmas tree we could fine. But somehow, along the way, we experienced tunnel vision and forgot to enjoy the process.
The holidays are full of moments where we try to create perfection. We want to take the perfect family photo, have a perfectly decorated house and Christmas tree, and we want to make perfect little Christmas cookies with our perfect little kids. It’s a recipe for disaster.
When we focus more on the “what” (perfect tree) than we do the “who” (our daughter) we miss out. We need to remind ourselves to look up from what we’re doing and just enjoy the sweet little moments along the way. The smiles and the giggles are worth way more than a perfectly frosted cookie.
“Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end”. (NLT)
When I find myself in this vortex of perfectionism, and I feel it pulling me in, I have to remind myself that there is beauty in the process. There is beauty in the perfectly imperfect mess of it all. Often times, it’s in the wreckage of our expectations that we find some remarkable moments.
I pray this holiday season would be one where we see the beauty in all that life offers. From the imperfect family photo to the delicious yet haphazardly decorated cookie, there is beauty to behold in all of it. I pray that we would find joy in the process, however that may look for us. I pray that we would be free from the stress and worry that can threaten to drag us under during this busy season and that our homes would resound with a gentle peace. May our quest for perfection be replaced with a sense of gratitude for what we already have.
A prayer: Father, You make all things beautiful in Your time. We give You all of our imperfect messes and trust You with them today. We release our grasp on trying to make things perfect and open our hands, surrendering it all to You. Remind us of what is truly important this holiday season and give us a fresh perspective to see all the beauty that today holds. Thank you Father that You alone are able to give us beauty from the ashes we offer you.
Perfection is an idea that once it gets inside of our heads, it is incredibly difficult to get rid of. How many times have you played out in your mind a perfect scenario? Whether it’s something as simple as an afternoon where your children actually get along with one another or whether you’re dreaming of the perfect family get together this holiday season. You know, the one where nobody says anything stupid, where nobody’s feelings get hurt and nobody drinks themselves to the point of oblivion.