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Imperfect Christmas

We had a very imperfect Christmas this year.

Like thousands of others, our Christmas flight was canceled (twice).

We missed getting to see the 9 cousins, 6 aunts and uncles and 4 grandparents we longed to spend time with.

And so on Christmas Day, with our second flight canceled and no food in the house, we found the only open restaurant on our drive home from the airport. And had a warm, silly dinner slurping down spaghetti noodles, letting our kids play under the table, and finding ways to laugh at the absurdity of it all. Highly imperfect, but a sweet family memory - one we would not have had if we had clung onto the idea of a “perfect” Christmas.

Our imperfect Christmas gave us several gifts:

→ My kids learned that big disappointments happen and that they can be sad but also okay

→ We deeply engaged with the few presents under this year’s Christmas tree; as we did puzzles for the 10th time, we were curious and attentive instead of immediately moving on to the next shiny object

→ With the “perfect” bells and whistles of Christmas removed, we were reminded of how grateful we are to have so much of what matters most

The work I’ve done in this recent chapter to let go of perfectionism made these moments possible, as did the creativity of my husband. But two concrete things also helped:

→ We gave ourselves space to “grieve” our perfect Christmas before moving on: my daughter asked me if she could “freak out” in the airport and I said yes, so she laid down on the airport floor, banged her fists on the ground while wailing, and then got up with a satisfied smirk. I texted a string of grammatically incorrect expletives to a friend. We let ourselves sit in our raw, unprocessed feelings for a bit instead of pushing them down and immediately moving on.

→ We stopped trying to bend reality to our will. There’s nothing like thousands of canceled flights to help you realize there are some situations you just can’t control. But not trying to look for the next solution to maintain our perfect Christmas allowed us instead to focus on what we could control, making the best of the reality we didn’t like.

Ultimately, I recognize that while our Christmas felt imperfect, it was still one of *extraordinary* privilege. And I’m holding on to that sense of abundance and gratitude in the midst of perfect plans being stripped away.

What gifts did the unplanned imperfections of your holidays offer you?

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