That Pinterest perfect Christmas is a myth but we continue to fall into the trap anyway. Take a step away and claim the joy in your own Christmas, however it looks.
No, not me.
It’s only that Christmas has to be … well, it’s not really, really Christmas until we … I mean, we wouldn’t want the disaster that happened that year I let my husband do the planning …
Take a deep breath and face it. You are coveting the perfect magazine Christmas and it’s completely wrecking your joy.
Coveting is bad.
Joy is good.
You know, just in case you were wondering.
It doesn’t have to be an image you’ve formed from a magazine, of course.
Depending on your age, we could call it a Pinterest perfect Christmas, a magazine cover Christmas or a TV special Christmas.
Maybe what you want is the perfect Christmas you see on Instagram and Facebook. If you’re an old movie buff like me, you want an It’s a Wonderful Life Christmas. You want A Christmas Carol’s Christmas (after he discovered his Christmas joy, of course).
They’re all so … perfect.
The dog never gets into the frozen turkey.
The preschooler doesn’t throw up on Great-Grandmas’s lap.
No one breaks down into inconsolable tears and locks themselves in the bathroom.
And, no matter how much everyone worries and frets that loved ones will be absent, everyone is there at the end. Step-children, warring ex-spouses, the grown child you cry for every night … they all magically show up at the door on Christmas Eve and life is good.
It’s wonderful to look at all of these and use them as inspiration for your own holiday decorating, cooking, and gift giving. But there’s a hidden danger in these perfect depictions of Christmas.
The key word here is “perfect”.
When you’re looking at these holiday images that are everywhere, there’s a real danger that you start to expect your own family Christmas to have the same look and feel. That’s about as realistic as wanting the perfect, air brushed body of the model on the latest fitness or fashion magazine.
Coveting a magazine cover Christmas will only lead to disappointment and a feeling of inadequacy.
In our minds, we know not to expect a perfect holiday display.
We know, we really do, that there are loved ones who won’t be with us and that we’ll miss them desperately.
We know that young children and pets can create chaos at the best of times.
We know that THAT relative is sure to cause a disturbance and someone else – not us, surely, but someone – is going to get upset and storm out in tears.
We know it.
But when we spend a lot of time immersing ourselves in the perfection of those perfect holiday visions, our heart still longs for them. We want perfection. We want everyone to be happy. Other people have it, our hearts and subconscious say, so why can’t we?
We look at that Pinterest image with a perfectly decorated home and a colour coordinated tree with designer ornaments.
Then we step away and see macaroni ornaments on a tree that is bare on the bottom half (because preschoolers, my friends. Preschoolers.)
And we feel disappointed.
Let’s face it, we’re coveting. And as always happens with sinful behaviour, it is hurting us and hurting everyone around us. There’s no joy or pleasure in coveting – just pain. We’re falling into a trap where what we have is not good enough. We want more. We want what others have.
This is a trap I fell into a decade ago. If I couldn’t have Christmas just the way I wanted it, I wasn’t going to do it at all. This has hurt me and my family, and pulling myself out of that trap is difficult.
You can celebrate Christmas if life isn’t perfect.
You can celebrate Christmas if the turkey and trimmings turn out to be a hot chicken sandwich with fries.
You can celebrate Christmas without a tree, without decorations and even without those missing loved ones.
Let me go farther.
Christmas is not about sharing memories and making new ones.
You can celebrate Christmas if you’re all alone.
It’s not about baking cookies, giving gifts, singing Christmas songs, hanging lights, sipping hot chocolate, or even about make more of those beautiful handmade ornaments with the kids.
You can have a joy filled Christmas without any of those.
Christmas is about one simple thing. The Son of Man came to be Emmanuel, born like every other baby of the time, to be “God who is with us”.
Even if your Christmas isn’t perfect, I urge you to look for the joy. And I totally get that sometimes it’s hard, and sometimes it’s impossible.
Sometimes, yes, Christmas just sucks. But not always.
Look for the joy.
If you have butter and flour, go bake some cookies and give them to a neighbour.
Grab the stapler or even a roll of tape and start making paper ornaments.
Dig out all of those kitschy little ornaments, the ones your Mom gave you that make you remember your childhood.
Make hot chocolate and cuddle on the couch to watch your favourite movie.
Say a prayer for your loved ones and know that they are in God’s hands.
Call up someone who is lonely – or, perhaps someoneelse who is lonely – and invite them over for a meal. Better a meal of herbs with friends, right?
It’s not going to be magazine perfect, and that’s okay.
If you could step behind the camera, you’d see that the “magazine-perfect Christmas” isn’t, either.0