Anna’s post about decorating for Christmas prompted me to reflect on my own decorating experiences since I’ve had my own household. There have been three Christmases since Dave and I have been married: We’ll call them Noob Christmas, No Christmas, and Not Perfect Christmas.
It was our first year together and we lived in an apartment that we weren’t planning to live in in forever, so I didn’t feel too much pressure to have my decorating act together. (Okay, I felt a little pressure, because it’s me, but it wasn’t too bad.) Mostly I just enjoyed the hilarity of us trying to put up our first tree. We couldn’t really let the tree dry from the snow outside (because, again, apartment), so we had to let it drip onto a bunch of plastic bags spread on the floor. Then we started putting on lights and realized we only had enough for about a third of the tree. We then made our first store run. We came back, finished the lights, and then tried to start putting on ornaments, including bulbs that we had just bought. But then we realized that we didn’t buy wire hangers, and unlike at our parents’ houses, we couldn’t run up to the attic to find the box of them. We made our second store run. Eventually the tree got decorated, and it looked great. We’d made it through our first Christmas decorating experience and had a new appreciation for all the stuff that you just don’t have around when you’re starting out.
We bought a house and moved in on December 13th, and we left for Minnesota about a week later. Needless to say, we sort of skipped the whole decorating thing that year. It was kind of depressing, but I was way too tired and busy packing and unpacking to even think about it. Fortunately, we lived vicariously through our parents’ decorations, so it was all good. Besides, there was always next year.
Not Perfect Christmas
This was our first Christmas in our legit, grown-up house, where we’re planning to be for awhile. I was excited to really decorate and make it feel like Christmas. But the decorations that filled up the apartment didn’t seem to cover much ground in a whole house, and because this whole past year has consisted of spending money on the house, I tried to be frugal and not buy too many more. We put up the Christmas tree, and while it looked great, I burst into tears when we finished. I just didn’t feel what I expected to feel; I thought it would feel like the glorious Christmas-spirit moments growing up after decorating the house. Part of it may have been that our tree was a little big, which made the room feel a little awkward, and that the lack of decorations in the rest of the house couldn’t make up for it.
But, I think the real problem was that I thought this year would be first year of actual Christmas after Noob Christmas and No Christmas, and to me, “actual” means “perfect.” But guess what? It’s wasn’t, and it never will be. And, like anything else, getting our system for the Christmas season down is a process. Our parents didn’t collect all of their decorations and learn what size tree works best and establish all of their traditions in a day; it took time. This is hard for an impatient and perfectionist person like me to accept.
But as the first two Christmases showed me, I’m so much happier when I accept the processes and imperfections of life. When I do, I don’t have crazy expectations for myself that can never be met, like having a house that looks it has 30 years’ worth of decorations.
To sum up, then: Life isn’t perfect, and that’s okay. Also, Merry Christmas!