The Imperfect Tree 2018
There is no greater challenge for a recovering Perfectionist than a Christmas tree, and by tree, I mean a real Christmas tree. A needle dropping, branches awkwardly jutting out, water sucking monstrosity that takes up half the free space in our living room.
It all started about six years ago, when we bought our first 'real' Christmas tree. Who knew a tree could have such an impact? Our church youth group was selling them, and our oldest son was in youth so we felt compelled to buy one. No one in our family had ever had a real Christmas tree. I was used to our perfectly symmetrical 7 foot tall fake tree. It was easy to decorate, it required no care at all and all the ornaments fit perfectly in a precise uniform fashion. No surprises. In fact, everything about Christmas at our house was precise, symmetrical and organized. Every single year.
We dragged our whole family to the church tree lot the day after Thanksgiving, where believe it or not, it was sleeting. The poor new youth employee was out there, by himself, surrounded by giant Fraser firs. They were all wrapped up and I had no idea what to expect. I wanted him to open each and every tree until I found the perfect one. But I just couldn't do it to poor Ryan in the foul weather, so we took the first one he took out. It was huge, it was gangly, it did drop needles (but not too many), and I loved that tree more than any Christmas tree in my whole life.
Every morning, I woke up and saw that tree outside my bedroom and smiled. It brought such joy and began a road to changing Christmas in our house that continues today.
We have bought a real, giant, Fraser Fir every year since. And each year, the trees have told a story. The Imperfect Tree always sits in our garage for a day or so, then we drag it in the house. No one is allowed to cut off any branches, except the one time there was one branch blocking our bedroom door and we kept running into it.
And each year we look at the tree and kick my ridiculous standards down a few notches. No more handmade matching wrapping paper or monogramed, matching Christmas pajamas. Who cares if Cooper hangs 5 ornaments on one branch and it's hanging to the floor? And those needles? Last year I did not pick them up off the tree skirt the entire month of December.
This year's ginormous tree, pictured above, did have to be trimmed at the base. Because it was too tall to fit into the house! And it's clumsy, uneven branches have made me happy every time I see them. Especially the ones with too many ornaments.
Christmas is about family and love and most of all, Jesus. The perfect Christmas and the perfect tree is but a myth perpetuated by too many Hallmark movies and tv ads. Perfection is not only unattainable, it's exhausting. I should know, I've lived many years chasing the perfect holiday. Luckily for me, only God is perfect and His perfect love is enough. That and my giant, gawky, imperfect tree.
The fastest way to break the cycle of perfectionism and become a fearless mother is to give up the idea of doing it perfectly- indeed to embrace uncertainty and imperfection... Arianna Huffington