Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Lately I've been thinking about how my perspective has changed over the years. For example, my stepsons used to be smaller than me. Little cherubs that gazed up adoringly at me. (I almost choked on my coffee writing that last part.) From my perspective now, things are a bit different.

Exhibit A

We recently marked each person's height in the entryway to the kitchen. (I'm 5' 3 1/2".)

Do you know how hard it is to scold someone while you're looking up at them? (And they're looking down at you, laughing...)

Exhibit B
(as if the height humiliation wasn't enough)

Comparing shoe sizes.
(I wear a 7 1/2 - 8, so I don't have tiny feet.)

So yeah, my perspective's had to change, whether I like it or not. The same has happened with my perspective on the holidays.

I love Christmas, but I've always set high expectations for myself that I can never achieve:

• Completely decorate the house for Christmas so it looks like a winter wonderland, complete with handmade crafts in every room.

• Bake/create homemade goods for all the neighbors and wrap them in adorable packages.

• Find the perfect gift for everyone and have it bought, wrapped, shipped and sent out soon after Thanksgiving so I can relax and enjoy the holiday season with all items on my to-do list done!

• Take the perfect picture for the Christmas card and send them out the day after Thanksgiving.

Now, factor in that I'm a major procrastinator and the fact that I don't manage stress well and you've got a recipe for disaster in melt-down proportions.

Something had to give. And that something was my perspective of the "perfect" Christmas. Last year really helped with that. Due to various circumstances, we ended up not seeing family on Christmas Day. Instead of the usual racing around and trying to fit everyone in, it was just the five of us.

And it was one of the best Christmases I've ever had.

It was so relaxing, so void of insane expectations, that right then and there I gave up the idea that the perfect Christmas had to be filled with everyone you know and love.

Other ideas changed too.

• Decorating the house: I have the tree up and some lights and other baubles thrown around. Not a handmade craft in sight. And you know what? It's just fine.

• Neighbors: Last year I baked cookies on Christmas Day just so I could finally bring them a gift. Not doing that this year! The neighbors are getting tins of popcorn for Christmas. They're already in Christmas tins, so no wrapping either!

• Gifts: I still struggle with this, but we cut way down on our gift list this year so we are not racing around trying to find a gift for everyone. Not being around too many people will help this. Unfortunately, I ordered one gift a little too late, and it won't get here til after Christmas. There is NOTHING I can do about it, so I'm determined not to go crazy about it. So far, so good.

• Christmas card: I learned early on that my idea of the "perfect" picture just wasn't going to work in my family of stoic men. Asking them to smile for a picture at the Christmas tree lot after picking out the "perfect" tree got me this:

It looked like I just told everyone their grandma had just died.
(And look! They were still smaller than me!)

I wised up and realized that my trying to force them into fake smiles and festive outfits (ha!) just made everything worse. So I just started taking pictures of the real us.

One year I didn't even bother to tell them to behave.

I just wrote "From Our Wild Bunch to Yours, Merry Christmas."
Everyone who got the card that year loved it.

I may be the only one smiling in this year's picture, but at least I'm keepin' it real. It showed us together as a family, and that's the important thing.

And it was a LOT less hassle.

How has your perspective of the holidays changed over the years?

1 comment:

Christine said...

Ah, yes, real men don't smile ;-)
My 17 year old son is like yours are, waaaay taller than me. Luckily we got through the misbehaving years long ago. He joined the Marines so if he gets himself in trouble now, before boot camp, I am the least of his worries! That is keeping him on the straight and narrow so I don't have to worry about it. Definitely a changed perspective from a few years ago.....