Bring Back the Tacky Christmas -- How Perfectionism is taking the Child-like out of the Child
Updated: Oct 2, 2019
Tinsel. I mean shiny, silver streams of tinsel everywhere! Our house was decked with an inexpensive artificial tree covered haphazardly in mismatched lights, handmade ornaments, an angel topper with a yellowed dress, and a crocheted tree skirt from my Grandma. Lights! Lights everywhere in every color, wrapped around the stair banister, taped to the bathroom mirror, and twisted around the porch columns. Stockings! Stockings of every shape, size and color – some handmade, some store-bought hung from the mantel with heavy-duty nails. An extensive collection of stuffed animals lined the steps. Rudolph, Frosty and Santa perched on each step for the taking to hug, cuddle and sleep with. And a bowl of peppermint nougats on the coffee table.
These are a few of my favorite things!
I know it’s hard to admit, but our parents or grandparents – they did it right! My Mom made the holidays about the kids and she still does. Our hand-made goodies were front and center. She never rearranged the ornaments I hung – like I catch myself doing with my son. We didn’t have themed trees with perfectly positioned bows from the florist or all white lights. Our presents were wrapped in comics or a goofy reindeer paper purchased for 25 cents the year before. We would just ball it up and chuck it at the cousin across the room anyway. Our fine china was Dixie plates and we each had a spoon to dig into the pies being passed around the card playing table.
Letting go – is hard for our generation to do. Our forms of entertainment always keep us wanting something better, something perfect and aesthetically beautiful. Perfectly designed homes, gourmet cooking, exotic vacationing, and fashion trends bombard us in the form of TV, magazines, and social media. Our Pinterest boards and Instagram accounts explode with all things pretty and perfect. I am guilty of this!
There are people completely gifted with restoring things, crafting masterpieces, and making all that surrounds them beautiful and there is absolutely nothing wrong with it! But here’s the deal, you don’t become a designer, artist or engineer when the adults in your life do all of the creating or redoing of your creations. Your child doesn’t learn to think-out-of-the-box when you contain everything in perfectly wrapped boxes. I’ve seen this in preschool art projects brought home by my child. Sometimes I think to myself, “your teacher did a great job on this one!” It’s well-intentioned, but when I dig through my son’s treasures many years from now, I want to remember how obsessed he was with the color green and drawing dinosaur-like figures on everything.
As a society, we are constantly seeking perfectionism for ourselves and pushing that agenda on our kids. Perfectionism digs its roots into the do-more, achieve more schedule we value. In turn, we have more children battling mental illness, children that can’t make decisions for them-selves, and overtired-overwhelmed adolescents. I witnessed this first-hand when I met some brilliant teenage girls in the women’s-unit of the hospital. We as parents are more stressed, financially strapped, and exhausted.
I have perfectionist tendencies. It’s just part of my personality and in a lot of situations – like my work, it’s considered a good thing. I just have to make a concerted effort to steer my perfectionism towards the areas that benefit from it and NOT impose perfectionism on my son, my marriage, or any other relationship.
10 Things to Do this Holiday Season to Let Children Be Child-Like
Let them decorate and then LET GO: Stop rearranging your children’s work. Let them hang some of the ornaments and leave them where they are.
Showcase those precious handmade jewels: Put those handcrafted masterpieces front and center on your trees, fridge, mantles, tabletops, etc. Serve their decorated cookies at the parties.
Create Handmade Gifts: Have fun and craft cute ornaments with your kids. Don’t fret when that Popsicle stick reindeer looks more like an abstract dog in the right light – give it to the grandparents as-is.
Let them help you pick out gifts: You can always give them options. “What do you think mommy or daddy would like better?”
Let them help you wrap presents: “The more tape and bows – the better,” will be your new motto.
Think like a child: Do you think your little one would prefer Mickey Mouse pajamas or those preppy tartan plaid ones you want? Same goes for those stockings. You can monogram a silly santa stocking the same as that trendy chunky knit one.
Make it magical: This doesn't have to involve a big budget. Play Christmas music, reads lots of books, drive around looking at Christmas lights, watch Christmas classics and drink hot cocoa with the kiddos.
Get outside: If you have snow, then of course snowball fights, snowman building, sledding -- whatever else Northerners do. The beach is still a magical place to take a walk during winter around here. Visit a Christmas tree farm even if you don't plan on buying a real tree. It's just a great place to watch all of the elves hustling and bustling.
Bake Goodies for the Neighbors: Let the kids help you make cookies, breads and other goodies. Put them in baggies and meet some neighbors. You never know how much they might brighten someone's day.
Teach Them: Every day is a great day for learning, but the holidays are a perfect time to teach your children to cook, to serve, to give and to clean up afterwards. If you can adopt a child for Christmas or pack a shoe box, let the kids help pick the gifts and deliver them. If you can't afford any extras, there is always extra help needed at local food banks and shelters during this time of year. Of course, pick age appropriate activities for your children. Serving a cup of soup can change a child's perspective of life. Speaking of learning, don’t forget to teach those little ones the real reason for the season. Tell the many stories of the greatest Teacher we have.
This year, chaos in our house is all we know due to our tiling project in the living room. But, that didn’t stop us from decorating. We couldn’t get out the big tree this year, so my son picked out a small, snow-flocked one. He chose big and small brightly colored lights and cherry candy canes. He helped put the lights on and I refrained from rearranging them as best I could. The tree top is leaning to the right, because he keeps pulling up a chair to examine and rearrange those candy canes. He walks around with an ornament in his hand exclaiming “it’s Christmas time!” And there is a constant snow flurry on the floor and his hair, because under the tree is a great hiding spot.
This year, the look on my child’s face when he rearranges the candy canes for the umpteenth time is all the perfection I need!
Rocking Around the Christmas Tree
My Little One and I were cracking up the other day trying to sing Mele Kalikimake by Jimmy Buffet. While other families go to the mountains during the holidays, our little southern, beach-loving family dreams of Christmas in the Keys one year!
He calls all of us to be child-like. We must strive to have that awe-inspired, wonder-filled faith in Jesus!
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” Matthew 18:1-5 (NIV)