Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Perfect Christmas

Something dawned on me this week. The dawning was slow and gradual. The Holy Spirit had to bring me almost to the full light of dawn before I could even grasp what he was saying and explaining.

I have been on a mission that I didn’t even know I had undertaken. Somewhere in the far recesses of my mind I came up with this idea, and I started trying to carry it all to completion.

I realized on Monday that I cannot complete what I started.

I have been trying to create the perfect Christmas.

Not long ago I went with my daughters to see Four Christmases. I watched Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughn’s characters have to navigate their multiple parent (as a result of divorce and remarriage) Christmases. The movie is hilarious. I laughed quite hard in several places as we were able to plug our own family members into the cast. But there were also some very insightful moments, and I found some unexpected resonation with both Reese and Vince and all of their big-screen dysfunction.

My family is incredibly different. We don’t do things like other families. Never have and most likely never will. We all seem to march to a very different rhythm and cadence. Sometimes our melodies are even played in minor chords (we add the black keys to our music often).

When people see us interact and carry out our lives together, they cock their heads like puppies who are hearing a very strange, high-pitched sound.

But this holiday season has brought some changes and some shifts in dynamics. Adjustments and rearrangements have been needed. Some of our traditions no longer fit where we are now. How we have always done some things just will not work anymore. And everyone is in their own place trying to decide how and when to handle the multiple scenarios.

I am a “fixer” by nature. I want everyone happy. I want everyone to have what they need and what they want. I don’t like conflict, and I don’t like change that produces conflict. Well, hello, in reality who does?

So, in the back of my well-intentioned, but misguided mind I decided I wanted to do my utmost to create the perfect Christmas considering all the circumstances. I started making mental lists. I began to revamp my whole holiday mentality based on the fact that we needed a new plan. Now, I didn’t realize this was exactly what I was doing. I just went into “fixer” mode. I was trying very hard to find ways for us not to fit any of the dysfunctional families portrayed in the movie or in real life.

I wanted the perfect tree, the perfect presents, the perfect open house, the perfect dinner, the perfect Christmas Eve schedule, and the perfect Christmas day. But I couldn’t find a definition of what those perfections would be.

My frustration level has mounted exponentially since Thanksgiving. Clarity was obscured. I felt like a woman who was quite used to wearing reading glasses, but suddenly her prescription changed over-night. I put my glasses on my nose thinking I would be able to see. I could see what was in front of me, but then I would look up and everything would be blurry.

In my quest for perfection, I lost sight of what really matters. We hear this all the time, don’t we? Christmas is about family, about friends, about the real meaning of Christmas.

The litany of the phrases to describe Christmas is endless and sometime sappy. Avoid commercialism. Remember the baby in the manger. Give to the less fortunate. Keep it simple.

And in this quest for the perfect Christmas I began to detect cynicism. I noticed a Scrooge attitude seeping through my broken traditional cracks.

And then three things happened.

My daughter’s Christmas List. I asked my younger daughters what they wanted for Christmas. One wrote her list and then shared it with me. Incredible. The insight into the essentials for this season was unbelievable. Wise and funny. Profound. I was moved and convicted.

This was the first of the Spirit’s clues:

“Tamera, the best parts of Christmas can’t be bought or wrapped, they must be experienced.”

My misunderstanding with another daughter. No matter how hard you attempt to make something perfect, it will not be perfect for everyone. I tried to do one thing new and in the course this decision hurt and frustrated others. Misunderstanding caused frustration and complicated communication. I realized that my relationships with my daughters are priceless to me. Priceless.

Second clue:

“Tamera, the people you love and hold close to your heart are the priceless part of Christmas.”

My Christmas present’s arrival. I ordered a gift for someone very special to me. I was so thrilled and delighted to have found something rare. A small gift, but so very important. Between the times I ordered it and its arrival I had forgotten my delight. I forgot the feeling I had when I clicked purchase. The package arrived in the mail this week. When I held it in my hands my delight returned and multiplied. A small thing, but it was the right thing for the person I had chosen it for—and it was better than I had hoped. I was so excited. I realized I had allowed cynicism to rob me of my delight in such simple pleasures.

Third clue:

“Tamera, delight is the magical ingredient of Christmas. Delight over the simplest of things.”

And then I understood. The goal is not about a perfect Christmas. My oldest daughter said it is about Christmas making sense. The clues of the Spirit made this season make sense for me. These truths released me from the stress of trying to create something that is not even necessary.

Christmas is to be experienced not orchestrated.

Christmas is about embracing priceless people not idealistic perfection.

Christmas is remembering to delight in the smallest of gestures and events.

I think I will get my perfect Christmas.

2 comments:

Kathy said...

Hi Tamera,

I love this line...do you mind if I quote it in my own blog tomorrow...Christmas is to be experienced not orchestrated.
It is a wonderful snippet of wisdom. Kathy

Tamera said...

Of course you can quote. Feel free! Email me sometime!