Christmas is a season of highs and lows. The highs are all about spending quality time with family creating memories but it is also a cruel reminder of our loved ones who once celebrated with us and who have passed on. The holidays evoke the feelings of something magical but we extend ourselves to the point of having a nervous breakdown. We stress over every small detail trying to make things perfect. This is the year I give up.
This is the year I give up sounds like a bold and somewhat negative statement when in fact it is the opposite. Growing up as a “wanna be perfectionist” and a people pleaser the holidays have always been incredibly stressful. Spending an insane amount of hours shopping for just the right gift. In the process spending too much money and suffering from panic attacks while waiting in long line ups at the shopping mall. The energy itself in a mall around Christmas time is unbearable for someone who suffers from an anxiety disorder. Then there is the wrapping session that I have never been good at and hence never enjoyed. I miss the times when bags and tissue paper were all the rage. The most stressful part is getting the house and menu just right for the guests. When you meet a couple, both of whom have OCD, then preparing for guests is a never ending process. Christmas for me is like any other romantic notion – I visualize perfection; the biggest most aromatic tree, getting the decorations fit for a photoshoot in House & Home magazine, making the best signature cocktail, having the family in colored coordinated clothing for the photos, the wrapping paper to match underneath the tree, 12 inches of snow covering the ground, a snowman in the front yard, a fire crackling in the fireplace, Harry Connick Jr’s sultry voice streaming out of the speakers – I think you get the picture and it is perfect!
That is what I visualize but that is not even close to the reality. It seems no matter how hard I try or how much I plan the actual never matches. I haven’t given up on Christmas but instead I given up on the romantic notion that I can get it perfect. This year I shifted perspective and went about things very differently. I decided on “healthy & sane” over perfection. This year I never once braved the malls instead Amazon became my best friend. Now that all the gifts have been unwrapped I know it was a huge success. I also purchased several gifts online created by local artisans. When I could I used fabric reusable bags to take the edge off my usual wrapping sessions. I wrapped a minimal amount of gifts in paper since this year I cut back on spending. I wanted to see what it felt like to not overextend myself. It felt amazing!
Decorating and preparing for the holidays came after celebrating my husband’s birthday. December 7thwas to be his special day without any traces of the holiday season around the corner. In fact, we were so late buying the tree that our usual place was closed the evening we decided to go. We had to go elsewhere and settle for the slim pickings that remained on the tree lot. It’s probably one of the smallest trees we have ever had but are more than okay with that. We opted for putting our favorite decorations on the tree, although my perfectionist heart still yearned for the totally curated version. That is the beauty of age – there comes the wisdom that perfection is an unattainable illusion. It is a concept that can drive people mad. When we learn to let go of that then the real beauty revels itself.
Having hosted both families last year meant that we wouldn’t be hosts this year (a lot less stress). On Christmas eve we packed up the gifts and headed to my sister-in-laws house. Her house was perfect! It had nothing to do with the decorations, the tree, the music or snow (because there was none). It had to do with the fact that once again our family was all together to celebrate. Instead of seeing it as celebrating the birth of Jesus or following tradition – I decided to see the beauty simply in all of us being together for another year; happy, healthy and having endured so much together. I relished in the conversations we had while sipping on bubbles. It was sensory overload; the smells coming form the kitchen, Keyan banging his feet on the floor repeatedly, the kids running around – giddy with excitement, my father in law proud of my girl for her help with the traditional Indian shrimp, the tearing of paper, the speeches (my niece embarking on a new endeavor) – sensory overload in the best sense. Again, being reminded that it is imperfection – it’s all perfectly imperfect – and I am more than okay with that.
Now as we look to a new year I have decided there will be no more resolutions made. I remind myself that this is the year “I give up”. No more resolutions made only to be broken. I give up on perfection. Instead I will focus on living my best life. Whatever that means at a given time, in a given situation, with whoever I am with. I will go forward this year reminding myself that “I am enough”. Thank you Christmas for all these gifts.