The Perfect Tannenbaum For The Perfect Christmas

THE Relationship Blog


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When I was a little girl, I use to get so excited during the holidays. Like every normal kid, I would write my letter to Santa, behave as best I could and help the family to decorate for the holidays. Since my parents were not natives to this land, the trimming of the tree was left largely to the kids as we grew up. For years we had a white flocked, aluminum tree that sat sadly in a corner. It was only when said flocking was barely visible and the tree looked like someone had made feather boas with aluminum that my parents started buying real Christmas trees.

My sister, who is 6 years older than me (oh wait, 5 years 10 months- in case she is reading ;-)), took charge of all decorating. She had a strategy, color pattern and illumination design. I was consigned to putting the hooks on the balls. If I tried to put a ball on the tree my sister would chide me and remove it. I was allowed to place the manger in front of the tree (she told me it was an honor and I believe her to this day- she had a way of hypnotizing even back then). The point is that she believed that Christmas looked a certain way. It needed to be perfect; the perfect tannenbaum for the perfect Christmas.

After many years, she has relaxed a bit and I think if I tried to put a ball on the tree she may allow it. But the underlying need to make things perfect during the holidays is a feeling that pervades every home during this time of year. The turkey needs to be moist. The tree needs to look amazing yet homey. The gifts are wrapped with care. The presents are awesome and can never be outdone. We place so much significance to every little thing we do during the holidays it is a wonder we aren’t shooting people from the stress!

This stress, as we mentioned it yesterday, causes tension in families and creates an atmosphere of hostility. This is why some people dread the holidays. Where we should be singing fa la la la la we are having sleepless nights wondering what to get our sisters ( I do. Really.) . What side dish will bring the wows during our family feast? Should we all dress in the same colors for Christmas Eve? Did my son already get dirty? We just got here and they haven’t even taken a picture! Having a picture perfect holiday reinforces the illusion that perfection is attainable. Damn you Norman Rockwell!

Let’s face it, these are first world problems. You know that in the Sudan they are more interested in surviving than if Dad liked his sweater. But, our concerns are important because they belong to us! So how do we deal with perfectionism? Easy. Just remember that it doesn’t exist. Martha Stewart has hurt the psyche of the American Mom more than taught us how to make our own tinsel; that level of OCD is a luxury that only the rich or careless can master. We live in the real world and in my world, flavor trumps presentation, relaxation kicks tensions ass and any gift with thought behind it is the best in the world.

This holiday enjoy your company; surround yourself with people who share this commitment to enjoyment versus perfection and fa la la la la yourself to a memorable Thanksgiving/Christmas season.

P.S. I love my sister. Though I am irreparably scarred by the Christmas tree experiences, I appreciate what she was trying to do.

P.S.S. I am kidding.

2 comments

  • Confession time: I have OCD when it comes to Christmas. I love the holiday and what it stands for, but have trouble giving up on the idea that my house has to look perfect. I’ve ruined the fun of decorating our tree, that is until my husband and daughter start to laugh at me. And I’m able to snap out of it and laugh at myself. Thanks to them, I’m working on it. Kind of.

  • Gab Gal Nan

    Great post and OH SO TRUE!

    Hope you guys are well!!!

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