Category Archives: Christmas

Letting Go Of Perfectionism At Christmas – 3 Tips

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I learned perfectionism at an early age.  The quest to prove myself worthy of love by doing everything perfectly (or not doing it at all) was learned at my father’s knee.  It has taken a good portion of my adult life for God to break me of it and for me to learn God’s love for me is not performance based. He loves me even when I fail Him, which I do often and in spectacularly public ways.

Christmastime can be hard for frustrated perfectionists, especially if small children are involved.  Years before artificial Christmas trees were invented, my dad would spend hours drilling holes in the trunk of our Christmas tree to “fill in the bald spots” with branches taken from the bottom of the tree.  Once he got the bald spots filled in, he would put the tree in the stand.  However, it never stood perfectly straight, so more time would be spent stringing guy wires from the tree to nails in the wall to keep it perfectly aligned. Only then were his six frustrated little girls allowed to approach the tree.800px-Christmas_tree_with_presents

Years later as my husband and I began our tradition of going to a tree farm with our young children, I frustrated everyone (myself included) by searching for the perfect tree.  Nothing was ever good enough for me.  I could always find some fault with any tree they found: not big enough, bare on one side, too spindly, etc.  It was not a fun excursion.  I finally decided that picking out the tree was better as a tradition the kids shared with just their dad.  They had a great time and no matter what tree they brought home, by the time it was decorated and the lights were on, it looked beautiful.  Here are a few other things I learned through the years.

Tip #1.  If you find yourself stressing about everything being perfect this holiday season, take a deep breath and walk away.  Take a moment to yourself and think, “Is it worth taking the joy out of Christmas because I want everything to be just so?”  Let your children’s memories be of the joy and happiness of the holiday season.  Teach them to embrace the imperfect and to encourage those who are trying, no matter the result of their efforts.xmasdinnertable                                                                                                                  photo by flickr_NC intoruth

Tip #2.  Stop comparing yourself to others!  No offense to those of you who have your house perfectly decorated, your holiday baking all done, and every gift exquisitely wrapped and under the tree, but your super capabilities make us “normal” folk feel inadequate.  I no longer torture myself looking at Pinterest or magazines that give me unrealistic expectations of what the holiday should look like for me, and I am happier because of it.   Looking at pictures of things that are beyond my means makes me discontent.  I choose to be thankful for the life and home that God has provided for our family. Christmas_presents_under_the_tree_(11483648553) Tip #3.  It isn’t about the presents.  Repeat after me, “It isn’t about the presents”.  Children, especially small children, will not know that you did not find the perfect gift.  As the parent, you are responsible for helping them to have realistic expectations.  If you are joyful, no matter how few gifts are under the tree, then your children will be joyful, too.  You set the tone of the day for your children.  Don’t let the lack of money determine your enjoyment of the holiday.  Teach your children the joy of making a gift for those they love.  Teach them to serve others as their gift to Jesus.  There are many free activities to enjoy as a family.  All you have to do is seek them out.  Your children long for your presence and time with you, even more so at the holidays.  Treasure these moments as they are all too quickly gone.FullSizeRender (33)

Tip #4  Learn to love the imperfect gifts in your life.  This is our sad little Christmas tree.  Yes, I know there are all blue lights at the top and multi-colored lights at the bottom.  I know the ornaments are old and tired.  But you see, every year my sweet husband gets out the tree and decorates it for me while I am at work.  It is a gift to me. I have learned with God’s grace to love the perfectly imperfect gifts in my life.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Do yourself and your family a big favor this Christmas.  Let go of your unrealistic expectations.  Give your heart and home over to Jesus as you celebrate his birth.   Your holiday season will be full of joy.

I am linking up this week with Grace & Truth  and Purposeful Faith.

The Cat Who Came For Christmas

When we moved into our home many years ago, one of our cats never adjusted to the move.  Patches refused to stay inside the new house.
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photo by flickr_NC/mao_lini
Terrified by the change, she would come inside only if the door was left open.  The minute we attempted to close the door she would become frantic trying to get out. We decided to allow her to stay outside hoping that her anxiety would decrease and she would once again join the family inside.  In the months and then years that followed, Patches became an outdoor cat. Occasionally we would try to lure her inside, but it never worked for long.  She liked her outdoor life and seemed to thrive in it.
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One winter we had a terrific snow storm and lingering cold spell.  We worried about Patches staying warm, but no amount of coaxing would bring her inside.  We made sure she had lots of food and fresh water available and checked on her frequently.
cat_on_snow photo by Von.grzanka
Then one morning I came downstairs to find Patches sitting outside the patio door. I opened the door to feed her and she walked right in like she owned the place. She headed straight for our Christmas tree, crawled underneath, and commenced to purring. 
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We have been hearing her rumbly purr ever since. I asked her repeatedly what took her so long to come in from the cold, but she just stared right past me like she didn’t even hear me. There is no understanding a cat.

7318101954_2e9bf7a622_cPhoto by BuzzFarmers

It didn’t take long before Patches decided she much preferred being indoors rather than out. She would come out from under the tree as needed, linger long enough for lots of petting and brushing, and then disappear under the tree again. I was concerned about what she would do when the Christmas tree came down, and she didn‘t have anything to hide under. However, my concern was for naught, as Patches took over the house. She had a really loud meow, and she would get quite irritated if we didn’t immediately know what she wanted. It sounded like she was chewing us out, in cat language of course. It is probably a good thing we don’t understand her language because I think she has a potty mouth.

Patches lived the rest of her life indoors, with an occasional foray out into the wilds of the backyard.  I always think of her as the cat who came for Christmas.

A Favorite Christmas Movie For Children

London to Brighton Veteran Car Run
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One of the memories I cherish of when my children were young is of them watching a charming film by Disney called “The Small One”.  You may have never heard of it, but it is worth watching on YouTube or even searching out a copy to buy.

It is an animated movie about a young boy and his donkey named Small One.  The boy is forced to sell the donkey who is old and weak.  He searches for a buyer but is unable to find one except for the tanner who wants him for his hide.

When all seems hopeless, a kind man comes along who is looking for a gentle donkey to carry his pregnant wife…to Bethlehem.

Do you or your children have a favorite Christmas movie?  Let me know if you enjoy, “The Small One”.