Merry Meltdown

 In Culture, Interviews

The quest for perfection can wreck your sanityand holiday spirit.


I must confess that I used to dread the crazy, frantic and supposedly festive window of time between Thanksgiving and New Yearsespecially once I became a parent. Theres always the holiday cards to send, the extra food to bake, the additional social events to managenot to mention braving the mall and waiting in store lines filled with people equally as worn out (and likely as crabby) as I am. As moms, many of us put a great deal of pressure on ourselves. We want to give our loved ones what we envision as the “perfect” holiday. But, we forget that “perfect” is not only overratedits impossible.

My story:

Last year, Mother Nature gave me a gift Ill always remember. It was the lesson to stop, breathe and reflect. I was able to ask myself, “What are we really giving our kids in this crazy quest for holiday perfection? What happens when were too wiped out and cranky from all the efforts of ensuring flawlessness?” Heres how it all began

Twas the day before Christmas. The car was packed with a plethora of presents and overnight bags. My husband, son and I were ready to roll out of town to spend some quality time with extended familyuntil they called to cancel. The weather was supposed to get ugly, so for safetys sake, we postponed. We had an entire day free, which due to my husbands hectic work schedule last year, was a rare treat. So, after three seconds of deliberation on how to spend the day, we trekked to Koppermans in the Central West End.

My husband and I used to brunch at the deli regularly during our courtship and in the early years of our marriage. We spent hours there, lingering over coffee and omelets, watching people (and their dogs) pass by. We were excited to share the experience with our son. From there, we decided to visit the Missouri History Museum in Forest Park. We were surprised to find the place practically empty. We capitalized on the opportunity, exploring various sections of the museum and savoring each exhibit. Later that evening, as fat flakes of snow covered our lawn, we curled up to watch “A Christmas Story” next to a crackling fire. For dinner, we pulled out paper plates and feasted on ribs. It definitely wasnt the traditional way of celebrating Christmas Eve. The china remained where it always is, tucked away in the cabinets. The everyday clutter of homework, bills and school forms littered the table. We were in desperate need of groceries. Dust bunnies, realizing it was safe to emerge from the nooks and crannies of the living room, seemed to gather around the tree. Tired, yet happy from our day, we were hopelessly unfit for companyand it was the best Christmas Eve weve ever had! There was no rushing around. Deadlines, math problems and business calls could wait. We completely unplugged; it was delicious.

Heres what I learned:

The important thing is to toss the expectations aside and just be. Keep in mind, most kids wont remember beautiful bows donning the gifts or a burnt bundt cake. But they will remember how you made time to be with them and enjoy the season.

Every family is different, so everyones ideal of what makes for an amazing holiday will vary, too. Whether its a family walk, volunteering for the day or watching movies together while popping popcorn, celebrate in your own way.

The other night I overheard my son talking to his best friend about that last Christmas Eve. He said, “It was one of the best days of my life.” Now that? Was perfect.

About the Writer
ALIVE ParentPop blogger Lisa Bertrand discovered a passion for social media more than six years ago. In that time, shes written for a host of local and national websites. Currently shes finishing a second novel. She lives in West County with her son, husband, puppy and a little old lady dog.




Photo credit: Illustration by Sarah Quatrano

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