Holiday Attitude Adjustment

Isn't it sad that one of the most joyful occasions in Christendom is also one when so many people suffer from stress and depression?

I think one reason for this sad statistic is that people put all this pressure on themselves to make Christmas perfect -- like a slice of Americana right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. Nothing in life is perfect. Nothing. Not in nature, not in something created by man. Beauty is in the imperfection.

Deadend Pursuit

The pursuit of perfectionism, whether in the gifts you buy "from Santa" or the gourmet dinner you plan, or anything, is a pursuit destined for failure. Quit worrying about creating the perfect Christmas. It makes you -- and the people in your life -- crazy.

Tullian Tchividjian, a pastor and theology professor said: "The deepest fear we have, 'the fear beneath all fears,' is the fear of not measuring up, the fear of judgment. It's this fear that creates the stress and depression of everyday life."

So who is that awful judge that announced you're not measuring up? It's you, yourself.


Aim for joy. So the Christmas cookies are lopsided, and the tree lights burn out a nano second after you drape them on the tree. The cookies will still taste good, and the tree light story can become the stuff of legend in your family. "Remember when Dad spent 3 hours arranging the lights on the tree, turned them on, and they all blew out?"

That's not perfect, but that -- and the great laugh everyone had (or the ranting tantrum) -- is what will be remembered.

One Christmas Eve when our youngest was an acolyte at church services that night, the people in the pew in front of our entire family were whispering about how beautiful our daughter was. The music director announced, "Let's sing Joy to the World." Everyone stood, the organist played the introduction then paused. In that silent pause, before everyone started singing, my husband belted out, "Joy to the world..." and the entire congregation dissolved in laughter. (I thought our kids were going to fall off the pew.)

Yes, he was a little embarrassed, but all these years later, no one in the family remembers all the whispered remarks about our daughter. They do all remember my husband's short solo of Joy to the World. Every Christmas when our grown children are together, one has to tell that tale again.

Perfect? No. Joyful? Yes.

Takeaway Truth

This Christmas, and every day of the New Year, aim for an imperfect life of joy, in which you do your best and accept the results, knowing you did the best you can do.


  1. Great post. My husband and I were talking about something very similar today. Part of the problem is the older generation (in their sixties) who want the entire family to be together. They want to see their remaining siblings, and their nieces, nephews, etc. My mom held an extended family gathering today (her siblings and their respective families), and I knew maybe a third of them. I also have little interest in knowing them. I went because my mom's feelings would have been hurt if I didn't, but it's just added stress when everyone is already so busy. So we drove an hour down there, ate and had fellowship for an hour and a half, and then drove back. While I don't have anything against any of them, we really don't 'know them. I think that generation would enjoy themselves more if they just got together without the younger level. As their activities have decreased with age, it would give them something else to do. Meanwhile, the generation that is still swamped with kid activities and overbooked would have less stress. I wish they would move their gatherings to a dead month, like January. Why does everyone want to do everything in December? I know I sound like a curmudgeon, but this was the first of three trips to GA in two weeks (divorced parents will do that to you) and two gatherings on my husband's side.

  2. I think most people get frantic at Christmas with the "show me you love me" syndrome which, in their eyes, can only be proven if you show up during the holidays. It's tiring, isn't it, to have to keep convincing people you love them?

    I've been trying to get our grown children to agree to two events each year -- one a Thanksgiving/Christmas celebration NOT in November or December and the other a hot weather celebration in lieu of Memorial Day/July 4th/Labor Day. So far I haven't had any luck. So it's not just older, empty-nesters who the family Christmas.

    Still, with all our kids married and with kids of their own, we're just glad whenever they can juggle all THEIR schedules and come to visit--no matter when it is.