Are you longing for “The Perfect Christmas”? Well, stop it.

My children have attached their holiday wish lists to the refrigerator. Actually, I have to lift the lists to find the refrigerator.

A lot of us parents complain that, when it comes to the holidays, our kids want too much. Unfortunately, the same can often be said for you and me.

What do you and I want that borders on the excessive? Easy. We want “The Perfect Holiday.” We want our homes to smell like nutmeg and our decorations to look like something out of Southern Living. We want the members of our families to get along so well that, next to us, the Waltons look like candidates for “The Jerry Springer Show.”

All of these unrealistic expectations can lead to stress and guilt. They can lead us to feel stressed because we’re doing too much, and guilty because we think we’re not doing enough.

Unrealistic expectations can also lead to grumpiness. (I always know I’ve hit the holiday wall when I hear myself barking the following phrase to my kids: “I don’t CARE if your legs are numb. There are still TWELVE dozen cookies left to decorate and we are going to SIT here and decorate EVERY LAST COOKIE and HAVE FUN DOING IT whether we want to or not!”)

This year, stop tormenting yourself.

–Keep expectations realistic and make time to replenish yourself by enjoying a bubble bath, reading devotions or taking a stroll around the block.

–Give gifts that celebrate time together. One family I know decided to limit their gift-giving to things that would encourage time together as a family, such as card games, board games, party games and puzzles. They spent the holiday amassing monopolies, scrabbling for words, and searching for clues regarding Miss Peacock and Colonel Mustard. It was one of the most enjoyable holidays they can remember.

–Finally, take two belly laughs and call me in the morning. Sometimes when a holiday takes a particularly chaotic turn, the best remedy is to throw up your hands and laugh about it. Did you burn the snowball cookies? Forget where you parked your car at the mall? Get your Christmas cards in the mail the day before Washington’s birthday? Instead of buckling under the stress, chuckle instead. You’ll be surprised how good it feels.

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  1. Well said, Karen.

    We like to put luminaria out in the snow, running the full length of the street. The paper bags and candles are inexpensive. And, for extra fun, every 12th bag has a firecracker in it. Merry Christmas.

    – Jeff
    Sawyerspeaks.wordpress.com

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