This is a repost from a previous blog a year ago. Every last word of it is truth and I rest in the conclusion. Enjoy.
As I strung the lights on our Christmas tree last night I was reminded of the first Christmas I decorated our tree, 13 years ago. Actually, it was our second tree that brings back the memories… The garland. Ugh.
Our first Christmas tree.
I say “I” decorated the tree and that’s completely honest. Not that my husband didn’t try to decorate with me, but after an hour and tears he retreated to his man cave. I literally had a ruler out to measure the distance between the garland to make sure it was even all the way up the tree.
I bet I put that damn garland up at least 5 times… Trying to get it spaced PERFECTLY and wanting it to drape PERFECTLY.
Why did I have this problem? I’m going to blame my mother on this one. Completely and totally. My mother.
Decorating the Christmas tree as a child was a fun event, an event surpassed by not much. Unbeknownst to me, however, my own mother would go back to the completed tree and rearrange Grandma Rose’s and my hard work. I do recall watching her analyze the tree at night and rearranging a few things but I had no idea the depth of her conviction about tree decorating.
And the holes through the tree, Holy Mary the holes. If my mother could see through her tree she would add more stuff [new note: the woman is talking about getting yet another new tree. Her tree is only a year old. I’m guessing it’s because she can see through it.]. If she could see any parts that even suggested it was a fake tree she added more stuff. To this day, if you see her tree, there isn’t one single branch that isn’t decorated. Pinky swear.
So, take 24 years of tree decorating with the OCD tree decorating queen. You’ll pick up a few bad habits too.
But this PERFECTION… This PERFECTION was the epitome of my first years as a wife. I had to clean the house once a week… Dust, vacuum, cobwebs, etc, when it was just he and I. I would have a freak out if the dishes were left in the sink before bed. And if I made a meal and it was subpar I felt like a complete failure as a wife. And this expectation of things didn’t just stop at these issues. Anyway… Year after year I was overwhelmed with the Christmas tree. It wasn’t fun. It was just another thing that I had to try and do perfectly.
It wasn’t until our daughter was born and I vividly remember her sitting in the high chair, in our new home, watching me decorate the tree… A feat that would take half a day, at least. I was trying to keep her entertained and also trying to keep my cool with this blessed tree and finally I just made a decision, right then and there, that it was just a friggin’ tree. It didn’t have to be perfect, it never ever would be perfect, there’s no contest to win and life is just too damn short.
Each year it gets easier and easier to decorate the tree. The kids are actually in on it now so perfection is out the window anyway, and I don’t have the kind of time or energy to go a redecorate a tree… Not that I would anyway. It’s just as much their creation as it is mine now.
Our once barren tree is now being filled with ornaments from our vacations and things the children make at school or their Grandparents’. In fact, we have so many ornaments that it’s cresting on being my mother’s tree.
I reflect on this expectation of perfectionism of myself in our marriage. I think, like most young brides, I had this expectation of what our marriage SHOULD be like… About what our home SHOULD look like, including that damn tree.
And now as I get closer to my 40’s I find that I honestly could care less about this perfectionism. It truly zaps the fun out of things. That tension just builds up if every finite detail isn’t met. Life is too short. I have two small children. I’m too busy. Life is messy. Life is FAR from perfect.
And while I don’t know of any bible verse on perfectionism, perfectionism leads to pride and anxiety… And for me, anger and selfishness. Those things are not good.
So, let us enjoy the things we have, even if they don’t meet some expectation in our mind. Maybe you think your house is too small or your job is no fun or your child is investing talents in things you would advise against. Be thankful. We all, each and every one of us, have so much to be thankful for… Even if our bank account is in the red, our car is rusted out, our home is being shared with other family members, or our clothes come from a big box store. Cups are overflowing. God will provide, AND IS. … Even if all you have is a lowly Charlie Brown Christmas tree.