Amy Carroll » Releasing Freely » Abandoned Pictures of the Perfect Christmas

Abandoned Pictures of the Perfect Christmas

Today is Day #1 of the Wrapped in Grace blog tour. Make sure to subscribe by entering your email to the right to receive all 5 days.

10-19-15 Carroll Amy Perfect Christmas image

The further I read into the editorial the shorter my breath grew, and I felt the heat of stress radiating from my constricted heart. “At my house, the bustle stops when we gather with our daughters to trim the tree,” Gayle Butler, editor of Better Homes and Gardens, gushed.

Then she went on to describe her family’s lovely evening complete with traditional music, story-telling, and eggnog. She ended by saying, “By the time our quiet evening concludes, we’re energized and ready to try something new.”

Wow. That sounds just like my family. (Insert sarcastic tone here.)

My case of hives from the article came from memories of the previous year’s tree trimming at my house.

We all started well–hubs, the boys and me–matching up with the perfect pictures of Christmas preparations in my mind. It was just like BH & G. Amy Grant crooned Christmas carols in the background. Egg nog was poured into the red glass tea cups I had snagged at a tag sale, and boxes of decorations from the attic lined the walls.

However, it all started downhill over the lights for the tree.

Squabbles erupted over tangled strings of bulbs. Somebody turned on the football game, and the sound of the TV clashed with the music from the stereo. Instead of telling lovely stories of the ornaments’ histories as we hung each one, my boys began to make fun of the 70s-style bobbles from my childhood. It all fell apart faster than you can say, “Mama’s in a snit.”

Maybe they just got distracted, or maybe it was the maternal growls and snarls that drove them away, but suddenly I found myself sitting alone on the floor in front of the tree. The rest of my family had abandoned the traditional decorating of the tree.

I furiously gave the tree a yank to position it for another ornament, and…   TIMBER! It fell on me, driving the metal rod of one of the artificial branches into my arm.

That’s when it happened. Out of my mouth popped some of the overflow of a disgruntled perfectionist’s heart—a big, fat, four-letter word.

That brought the family back into the room.

“Mom! Did you just say #*[email protected]?!”

To this day, there is one favorite Christmas story at my house. It’s not The Gift of the Magi or The Polar Express. Not even How the Grinch Stole Christmas makes the cut. Our family’s favorite story is The Day Mom Cussed When the Christmas Tree Fell on Her.

Sigh.

So much for the perfect family Christmas. Ours might be rated R.

It’s hard to give up the pictures of perfection in our heads–especially during the holidays. It seems to be the time that Perfect takes a strangle hold with visions of the perfect pumpkin pie, the perfectly peaceful Thanksgiving dinner, and the perfect gift.

But surely there’s a better way to do the holidays. Surely there’s more joy to be had.

I’ve spent about a decade now breaking up with Perfect, and I’ve learned a few things we can all do as the holidays approach that will usher in the elements we all want this time of year—joy, peace, and a Jesus-focused heart. They’re all centered on relationships—with yourself, God, and others.

Surrender to Your Truest Self.

God created you, and there is no other that can take your place. In a world that’s dying to see real women living a real faith, God created you uniquely, so be unique!

Anna Quindlen says it this way, “Perfection is static, even boring. Imitations are redundant. Your true unvarnished self is what is wanted.” Love that.

I’d go a step further, though, and say that your true unvarnished self is what God wants and what most glorifies Him. When you take off the façade of perfection, Jesus’ light shines brightly through you and draws others to Himself!

So what does that look like in the holidays? If deep in your heart you have a passion for pink flamingoes, then go crazy with pink feathers instead of red and green plaid ribbon! If you’d love to have quinoa and kale instead of turkey and dressing, make it! Create new traditions around the things you love instead of just comparing and imitating. You’ll find fresh delight as you do, and others will be attracted to your joy.

Savor

Savor each person, each moment, and most importantly, savor time each day with God. Linger in the candlelight of early morning. Let music of praise wash over you. Center your mind and heart on Him.

For me, it’s particularly hard to savor my relationship with Jesus from November through December. I know that’s horrible to confess, but it’s true. My lists lengthen in my mind in any quiet moment, so this is the season when I need some great devotional books to keep my thoughts focused. Here are a couple I’ve got close at hand for this season:

  • The Greatest Gift by Ann Voskamp
  • The Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs

Keep It Simple

Don’t drive yourself this season, and for heaven’s sake, don’t drive others either (a lesson I’ve learned the hard way). Keep a family calendar and preserve some white space. For each opportunity, ask yourself what should NOT go on your calendar.

Have a discussion with friends and family about what is important to each person, and then let the rest go. I shake my head in sadness when I think of all the years I drove myself and everyone else crazy with all the things I thought had to be done… that nobody enjoyed anyway.

One of my least favorite tasks in life is cooking, so I’m ending with a simple recipe from my friend Sharon Sloan, author of SerenDIPity, that even the least domestic of us can make for a holiday party. Let’s all commit to surrender, savor and keep it simple!

The Now-Famous Cherry Cheesecake Dip by Lisa Lohwasser – SerenDIPity 2011

Cherry Cheesecake Dip

1 Box of Jell-O No Bake Cheesecake Mix

1 8-ounce tub of Cool Whip

1 21-ounce can of cherry pie filling

(or use any other canned fruit or fresh fruit you desire)

Prepare Jell-O Cheesecake Mix according to directions on box. Stir in the Cool Whip. Place cheesecake mixture on desired serving tray and pour cherry pie filling on top of cheesecake mixture. Chill until ready to serve. Serve with graham crackers or another dipper of your choice.

Looking for enCovercouragement to help you recover from that pesky problem of perfectionism? Today’s featured book is Breaking Up with Perfect.

Here’s a short clip of a video interview with Amy and Cheri Gregory. More clips will be available between now and Christmas.

Question: What do we do over the holidays with others’ unreasonable expectations?

Wrapped in Grace: Breaking Up with Perfect – How to Handle Other People’s Expectations from Cheri Gregory on Vimeo.

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409 Comments

  1. Thanks so much! Perfectly written just for me ☺️

  2. Veronica Nightingale says:

    I remember well all the years I spent decorating the tree with my daughter, but not with my husband or sons. They really didn’t want to and I became tired of trying to guilt them into doing it. Then there were the years after the kids were out on their own and I decorated it by myself. Now my son and his family have taken over the Christmas Day celebration and I just have to travel to his home with gifts and cookies, though I still decorate my own home. I’m still a slave to Christmas Past, however. Though I’m not the hostess, the gifts must be perfect, the cookies must be perfect and Christmas must be perfect, since time with my adult children is at a premium. Looking forward to what you all are saying about this timely topic!

  3. Thank you for the encouragement!

  4. Wow! Sounds like this is a book I need to read! Thanks for the great words!

  5. I used to love the “holiday season”, Thanksgiving and Christmas. My grandma always made homemade dressing; I remember tearing loaf after loaf of bread and going into the kitchen to “stir” them around the large white dish pan we used only for dressing! My son & I have continued this tradition; I believe last year was probably the last he’ll help. He’s now 22.
    Then I learned some things that had taken place during those times, secret holiday gatherings for 2/3 of the family complete with gifts and then when our family would arrive, the “chosen” ones received yet more.
    It was then that I began detesting these get togethers; for years I have seriously not liked these two holidays. I would have preferred to sleep the day away.
    I’ve let those family members walk away once and for all.
    But I too always wanted a perfect Christmas; however, after several years of marriage and a little boy, I’ve stopped decorating the house so much and try to focus on the real meaning of Christmas and just enjoy my little family.

  6. When I was growing up my Mom always made Christmas so very special, she made a couple hundred cookies took some to the Rescue Mission and also made pies and took to them. She always had room for one more at the dinner table. Fast forward to today, both parents are gone but still remember the best Christmas’s from the past now I live with my daughter and son-in-law and there four kids and a very active Black Lab….kids range in ages from 14 to 7….all are very involved in sports. So at Christmas my daughter now has the meal and I help her all I can my son and his wife and twin 8 year old boys and their dog will keep the house hoppin al season long. It is just nice to still have the type of Christmas my Mom had for us. So enjoyed your blog and the honesty you provided for us to the realness to your life. Merry Christmas!!!1

  7. Liz Rider says:

    Awesome!!! Loved your honesty. I could relate so much.

  8. Jo Ellen Chance says:

    I am a perfectionist when it comes to myself, but not for others. Crazy that I place higher expectations on myself. Thank you for the wonderful article and the reminder that I need to prioritize.

  9. I love the idea of breaking up with Perfect. I have come to know that I tend to want things to be. just. right. I’ve been trying to simplify my life, and I think I would gain a lot more freedom if I broke up with Perfect too.

  10. I can SO relate! I have this “perfect” picture in my head, each year, of what I want Christmas to look like, and when it’s not executed perfectly, I’m crushed. Thank you for your authenticity:). This was so encouraging and challenging for me to read!

  11. Rachelle Hughes says:

    I need Breaking up with Perfect. Period.

  12. Thanks for a great article.

  13. Lauren Gonzalez says:

    Thank you for this article! It helps remind me to focus on the relationships with my family this holiday season and not about creating “perfect” moments. I am also looking forward to reading Ann’s book this holiday season.

  14. Glenda Ball says:

    Thank you so much for your words of encouragement, i struggle greatly with perfectionism especially around the holidays, this year is going to be better.

  15. I see myself as the mom who had to have everything perfect and spent way too much time committing to project after project only to be too exhausted to enjoy myself along with the family. I am so glad I have simplified the whole season!

  16. Pat. Ammons says:

    Wow! Thanks for everyones comments. So genuine. I do pray for love, peace and joy for this year, for good humor and grace in the face of hurt and disappointment. It will be the first Christmas since our Mom of 92 passed away last February. She was Queen of gift giving to all her 8 children, 20 Grandchildren and 10 Greats. We all miss her and need to grieve our loss this year. I am going to write her a tribute poem and send it along to family. xo Thanks for your honest love of life and laughter!

  17. Allison S. says:

    When I was a teenager, the favorite Christmas story became “the last year we went out and cut down a real Christmas tree only to get it back to the house and realize the trunk was crooked and dad tried to saw it down and down and down to get it even only to end up throwing it on the ground and stomping on it like a 2 year old having a massive temper tantrum”, also known in the short version as “the Christmas tree from hell” or “when we started having fake Christmas trees”. Take your pick. Despite all that, Christmas has always been my favorite-and not because of gifts. I just love the time of year and celebrating the birth of our Savior. But, sadly, I have had similar moments to my dad’s those many years ago. One of the worst is when my wondering and well-meaning 2 year old broke one of the people in my “sacred” ceramic Christmas village. I wish I could say I handled it with grace and understanding, but I pretty much resembled a 2 year old throwing a tantrum myself. I haven’t put the village-one of my favorite things about Christmas decorating- up since. That was 8 years ago. I’m going to get it out this year, and if my kids want to touch and explore, so be it. It’s just stuff.
    I’M BREAKING UP WITH PERFECT!!!!!!

  18. I found this today. I love the thoughts and have both the books you recommend.
    This is a great way to prepare for Christmas
    Thank you

  19. I love your blog. We are not perfect so why should we expect to have a perfect holiday season? I love the holidays now more than I used to because I don’t stress about it so much anymore. We just try to enjoy each other and enjoy the holiday’s. It’s only a couple of days out of the year so make the best of it. It’s all about Jesus and being thankful.

  20. Amy,I enjoy reading your blogs as I can relate to everything you are saying. As a child of an alcoholic family I always dreamed about having the perfect holidays and family. When I started my own family I realized that everything will never be perfect. I’ve learned it’s my attitude and how I look at things that I either accept things and make the most of what I have instead of what I don’t have,

  21. Amy, today is day three of the five days to post. The link to the writer’s page show an error 404 not found. It is somewhat confusing to navigate from one post to another. The devotions are excellent; it is the path to read them and then where to post that is not clear.

    Colleen

  22. It never fails that I end up disappointed in what I didn’t do or do “right”. Feeling like I didn’t do enough to make the holiday special enough. Thank you for sharing, I don’t feel so alone!

  23. Nancy Martinez says:

    Oh my goodness Amy! This is my family… ever since I was a little girl I wanted to have the perfect family that you read about or see on TV. Your story gives me hope that I am not alone!

  24. I have struggled with perfectionism my entire life. Growing up in my house, if you could’t do it perfectly, there was no need to do it at all.

    I have gotten better with age (I think..my husband has helped to balance me somewhat in this area), but I still have far to go.

    Haven’t read your book yet, Amy, but I’m purchasing it now! 🙂

  25. This blog could not have come at a more relevant season in my life. God is taking me through a journey where He is showing that my perfectionist attitude is creating unnecessary anger within me and strife with my family. Ps 18:30 states God’s way is perfect and later in vs 32 that He makes my way perfect. I’m learning to let go and trust in God’s way in all situations.

  26. I still continue to strive to have a “picture perfect” Christmas. .however it usually ends up becoming a “photo finish ” Christmas! Because even though our kids are raised and gone from home I keep trying to get what I have in my mind as the “Perfect Christmas “…my kids would probably rather be like the movie 4 Christmas Holidays where they’re trying to sneak away. (Maybe this year that’s what we should all do and just enjoy each others company on a mountainside somewhere! )

  27. April Cunningham says:

    I’m gonna have to break up with my “perfect” Christmas plans this year. Our family will be moving during Christmas break and I have NO idea what that’s going to look like.

  28. Elaine Segstro says:

    Would love to read your book! Because I am a perfectionist I don’t readily accept help, and get frustrated when things don’t go the way I want them to! It just saps my energy and joy!! Enjoying these posts very much!

  29. Awesome! Since my divorce simplicity is what it’s all about

  30. Amy–You make me laugh and are just the sort of girl I could have a Diet Coke with. I’m so glad that you are sharing your heart and please know that it makes all the difference in the world to those of us who thought we were alone in our crazy pursuit of perfection. I love that you are moving forward out of the perfectionist tendencies and that you are willing to share the journey with us. What an encouragement you are to me and so many others. Blessings to you!

  31. Thank you for the reminder!

  32. Stacy Hollingsworth says:

    The concept of keeping it simple is wisdom each of us need to learn from each and every day. I really feel that the devil loves the many layers of busyness our families have going now a days because he doesn’t even have to work at keeping us from God– the crazy days and busyness of life in general can easily take the place of focusing on God daily.

    At the end of the day it really doesn’t matter how many practices and fundraisers we were a part of– stop and focus on what will last!

  33. Thank you for this! I’ve had a long standing struggle with perfectionism and don’t like how it has affected my two girls. It is especially difficult around the holidays! My goal this Christmas–keep it simple!! Prayers please!!

  34. Isn’t it amazing when we’re going for perfect how funny it turns out to be. Our family’s story was from our 1st night in a new travel trailer. It’s still a favorite. Loved this. And more the advice to let Jesus shine through our unvarnished selves. Thank you.

  35. Thank you for this great reminder. I am working right now on letting my perfectionist go as I am finishing up the last details of our vacation. There are so many things that I want to have prepared for the kids to surprise them, but I just don’t have the time right now to do it all. So I am letting go of some of the things that probably wouldn’t be as big of a deal to them anyways. And I am preparing myself for the reality of meltdowns and not every moment being “PERFECT”!

  36. You made me laugh with the tree falling down as we have had similar things happen to ours! Love it!

  37. Kathy Reed says:

    We do not have a house and are living with my sister -in- law and her husband. Truly, we are blessed. Everyone gets along and we are making perfection out of a not so perfect situation. As we continue to look for a new home and the Lord keeps telling us to wait, I start to panic. I want a perfect holiday season in our new home. I’ve never spent a holiday without my own home to decorate. Where will we go for Christmas morning. My list goes on. However, the Lord continues to provide a roof over our heads and sustains us with His love and strength for each day. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

  38. Amy, this is so powerful! Thank you that you were willing to share that with us in a public and very vulnerable way. I greatly appreciate what you do. Thank you!

  39. Please forgive my smiling as I read. I know well what you’ve gone through. I don’t have kids but I always, always, get myself into trouble because I “know” I can make this the perfect Christmas. It never happens. We’ve had fun or wonderful but never perfect. Someone doesn’t show, some one doesn’t feel good, someone is angry at someone else etc, and so it goes. I used to get very upset about all of it. I still do sometimes because I want it all to be memorable. Here is where I have to laugh at myself, I guess it is memorable with all the negativity going on. Anyway, you hit home with your blog and given me some things to think about. OH, and thank you for that recipe! It will be used for sure this year. God Bless you and your sense of humor and your love of Him.

  40. Russela Pyles says:

    Thank you for your inspirational stories! The last 7 Christmases we would always go home to my in laws’ house (since my family is in the Philippines). I’ve watched my mother in law stress over decorations and Christmas dinner every year since. This year, it will just be me and my 6yr old daughter and my chunky 9month old baby boy because my husband left few months ago. Part of me is sad that I will miss the craziness and fun times of being around family in this season (I grew up with 5 siblings back home and Christmas was always fun and happy with all the traditions we have). But I know that God will bless the ache in my heart and be with us as we celebrate His son’s birth 🙂

  41. Kristine Parada says:

    Thank you for touching my heart this morning. I absolutely am praying about having a wonderful Christmas, and having others be “attracted to my joy.” What a wonderful concept. Thank you for the perspective, I love it!

  42. Andrea Robinson says:

    This book’s title speaks to my heart! I suffer with perfection. Can’t seem to break that cycle. And I fear that I will instill it in my children. I need this in my life!! xo

  43. I am excited to start this. I am looking forward to a less rushed and stressed holiday season. I am looking forward to starting new traditions with my young children with lots of down time to enjoy quality time together as a family. One trick I have used that helps with holiday shopping is I use my credit card rewards that I earned through out the year and redeem for gift cards and movie tickets to hand out as gifts vs trying to find the perfect gift on sale. It cuts down on my hustle and bustle at the stores and allows me more time to be home with family. Now if I could master the crock pot we would be set. :o)

  44. Carol Love says:

    Perfectionism takes lots of forms. Expectations trip us up. Family traditions often have little to do with the family. I always loved to decorate for the holidays. Now I live full time in a motor home and there is no place for decorations. Well, maybe I will find a place this year. Dollar Tree, here I come – after the dinette has been replaced with a counter, table and chairs. Somehow, I will get something that I will give away after the fact. I am sure the campground will be able to use whatever I get next year for their decorations.

  45. Amy,

    Thank you for sharing this. Just yesterday, I started making a list of things for Thanksgiving. I’m praying about my expectations and probably modifying that list!

    🙂

    Sheryl

  46. Great reminder that what we think might be the “perfect” Christmas, others may not. Thanks.

  47. Thank you Amy for sharing your heart. I keep the holiday season simple now, so no stress. This holiday season for me would be even more simple because of our move and looking for a home for our family, but we are having fun in our new town so far sharing Jesus and praying for others. This end of year for us is focus on our Lord and share His heart and love to others.

  48. What is it about Christmas that brings out the grinch in all of us? Thank you for sharing your story.

  49. I can’t wait to try the cheesecake dip! Looks delicious! I’ve decided that I’m not stressing over the holidays this year. I’m going to take Amy’s advice and enjoy it this year.

  50. I’m so glad you posted this because I can relate to trying to have the perfect holiday traditions and them just being unattainable. I always take a lot of pictures of my kids opening their Christmas gifts because I want those perfect pictures…but I end up missing out on the sweet memories. This year, I’m breaking up with perfect, taking it easier, and simply enjoying the moments with my family and focusing on the reason for the season: Jesus!

  51. I remember the Christmas when my kids were little and all I had to decorate the tree were lengths of embroidery floss. The tree I got free from a store that was giving them away, and the kids’ gifts were mismatched game pieces in sandwich bags.

  52. This really spoke to my inner perfectionist! Can’t wait to try the dip recipe!

  53. I like the white space on the calendar idea! Looking forward to implementing these ideas for my family.

  54. Thank you for your honesty and transparency. I am in the process of breaking away from the need to be perfect so I can fully enjoy the life god has blessed me with and in the process be a blessing instead of a burden to those around me.

  55. As I read the original post and many of the comments, I would like to add a resource as we struggle with the “perfect Thanksgiving and Christmas”. The FlyLady at http://www.flylady.net is all about letting go of perfectionism 365 days a year. She has an online plan for Cruising Through the Holidays that began Mon 10/19. She is a Sister in Christ. We need to get Marla and Amy together 🙂

  56. Thank you for this blog! I gave up trying to have the “perfect” holiday season long ago… BUT it took the realization that everyone has a different “perfect” in their mind. My “perfect” will never match anyone else’s so rather than force it on others I abandoned the traditional and go with whatever comes each year. Your writing invokes thought, but also affirms! Love it!

  57. Drema Scheiba says:

    Great blog. My family doesn’t enjoy the tree decorating like I do. I think we will change how we do it this year.

  58. Julie Hutton says:

    Wonderful!!! Lord help me this holiday season! Every year I start out with the best intentions but, by mid December, I can’t wait for it to be over! All for the reasons you talked about. Thank you thank you!!

  59. Those kinds of stories are definitely the ones that stick around year after year. Thank you for your transparency and encouragement!

  60. Good made me unique. I love that! 🙂

  61. As I was reading this blog entry, I thought to myself, “This is SO me!” Every holiday season for as long as I can recall, I have visions of “the perfect holiday season” for my family like those shown in TV commercials, Hallmark movies, & Martha Stewart Living. I appreciate the timeliness of this 5-day mission to “Break Up With Perfect” before the holiday season gets underway.

  62. Loved this today! So funny….and so realistic! Can’t wait to read the next blogs! Thanks for the encouragement and holiday heads-up!

  63. I am my own enemy. I go to great lengths to please others and ensure everything is perfect. I feel as if it is not perfect, I will be letting everyone down. I do all things the traditional way because that is what everyone expects. I am a people pleaser, never a self pleaser.

  64. Thank you for sharing your heart. What freedom to know that God loves us as we are. And what joy to know we are His.

  65. As someone else mentioned, the holidays do get a bit easier as we age…usually. That said, it is just my husband and I plus our aged mothers for the holidays now and I am trying to be the “perfect” grandmother, long-distance. Weird, I know.

  66. Great reminder to keep things simple and not have unrealistic expectations.

  67. This was a perfect way to begin talking about the season. Caroling, hot cocoa, gently falling snow…all of those things are lovely, but then real life sets in doesn’t it?!
    Thanks for sharing!

  68. I could use this book at this time of year. Holidays vs. Perfectionism usually equals frustration and a ba- humbug season.

  69. Karen Birkenholz says:

    I am looking forward to the blogs this week. I love Christmas but every year I end up disappointed because of my perfectionism.

  70. Thank you for this timely reminder. I am looking forward to the next 5 days in this series.

  71. I absolutely Loved your post – your story made me laugh out loud! I have spent years trying to break up with perfect – and not keep getting back together! 🙂 I’m also trying to teach my daughters to do the same. Thanks for the encouragement! And from another woman who doesn’t really enjoy cooking, thanks for the easy recipe! I will definitely be using that one!

  72. “When you take off the façade of perfection, Jesus’ light shines brightly through you and draws others to Himself!” Thank you for sharing. This is a powerful truth I need to embrace more fully.

  73. I used to think I had to make everything perfect for Christmas. I had to make all the things my grandma’s made that I cherished growing up, but I found that I was the only one that cherished them. It made me sad that the family members didn’t feel the same why. Now that I have grandchildren I would love to pass those memories to them. I guess we’ll see as they grow up if they will cherish the same things. I did realize though that just being together as a family means more than the same candy grandma made or the same cookies we always had.

  74. Thank you for sharing. I needed this encouragement!

  75. Roberta Cross says:

    I enjoy the holidays so much! I love all the stuff that makes everyone else feel overwhelmed. I’ve learned, though, not to expect perfection. I will let some things go if it is not bringing joy to my family and me. Just last year I had to forego the annual Christmas card and family letter. We were visiting family out of town and there just wasn’t time to send out a bunch of cards. I have the cards and stamps from last year so I’m already ahead for this Christmas.

  76. I need to remember to treasure the moments. Thank you for the reminder that things don’t have to be perfect to be special.

  77. I need more white space in my calendar.

  78. Debbie Pete says:

    It is encouraging to know that others struggle with the same things

  79. Thank you for sharing your story!

  80. Amy: Thank you for reminding us we don’t have to be perfect, at Christmas or any other time of the year.

  81. I’m a lifelong perfectionist and lately have felt God working through me to “break up with perfect”. I could sure use this book!

  82. Susan Christian says:

    It’s as if God had you write these words just for me today, but when it’s not the holidays so I actually have the time to read them and absorb them!! I take comfort in knowing I’m not the only one with perfectionist tendencies and that it’s ok to want something better for my family and myself. Thank you!!!!

  83. I love Christmas…everything about Christmas. I’m that person with holiday scented candles and Christmas music all year long. Every year I end up getting caught by surprise with all last minute holiday “chores”, and every year I say “Well next year will be different…”. I love the thought of making holidays-or any time really-about relationships and not all that other stuff. My best memories are the times with family and friends. Thank you for this “well duh” lesson and thank you for Christmas in October.

    Also, your story reminds me of The Christmas Story. The part where the he fights the bully….hilarious!

  84. Lynn Lamster says:

    You mean its OK that I’m not perfect?!! Letting go of my perfectionism is a very new concept for me. Working on myself and could really use some guidance here. Looking forward to tomorrows post.

  85. You made me laugh. Thanks for your honesty and encouragement.

  86. Lucy Harman says:

    As a child I though our holidays were perfect in my eyes but as I grew older and became a teenager I soon realized they weren’t as perfect as I thought. My parents really did the best they could and I truly loved my childhood and I have told them that. But, when I was a sophomore my parents divorced my holidays weren’t as perfect anymore. Now that I’m an adult and married to a man whose parents are divorced as well it’s twice as difficult around the holidays. We almost dread any Holiday. We usually go on a trip for our kids birthdays so none of our families have to see each other that don’t get along. At Christmas, we’ve now decided if anyone wants to come see the kids or us they know where we live. There will be no more going 4 different places in 1-2 days with a 3 kids ages 2-8 years old. We want to start our own traditions not carry on someone else’s traditions. There is someone in particular that feels like they have to be around all the time and it makes it uncomfortable for me and anyone else to be around. Hoping these holidays are different.

  87. Such a good reminder of what should be the focus. Trying to learn to enjoy the “process” and not just get through to be done! As our daughters have grown older, it’s fun to see them taking the initiative and wanting to keep our family traditions. I’m learning to let go and let them take the lead a bit. Thanks, Amy for this article.

  88. I loved this article, it brought back memories of when my family started, wanting everything to be “perfect” and the next thing I know it all goes downhill. Feeling devastated and my family disnt understand just seemed to ruin the holiday not really but it felt like it. Then family would come and I would be made to feel as though I had to accommodate everyone’s needs and wants. Not anymore ☺

  89. I just found your blog and am super excited for this Christmas special. I started reading The Women of Christmas and am truly excited for a peace, Jesus filled Christmas. This will be my first Christmas where I truest get how great of a gift Jesus was and is. Thanks for getting us prepped for the holidays early! 🙂

  90. I loved this story. I feel overwhelmed during the holiday season with three kids work and school. You can lose focus of what is important. God and your family are the important things in life.

  91. Between this email and Amy Carroll’s P31 devotional about the live Christmas trees, I am getting the message – I am not perfect, and I don’t have to try to be perfect. I really thought I had gotten past some of my perfectionistic tendencies, but a recent issue at work has made me realize that I still have more work to do in this area! Thank you for the posts, and the reminders!

  92. Thank you for this post!

  93. GREAT blog…..perfectionism is not what it is about and can really ruin it for others……..

  94. These posts are just what I need. I’m about to begin my holiday planning and I need lots of reminders to keep it simple and not get overwhelmed

  95. Isn’t God always so “right on time”! The holiday panic has already begun rising in my chest. I LOVE that he directed me to your blog and this message. Thank you for sharing your heart and encouragement on this issue that hurts so many women. I’m looking forward to browsing your pages and being encouraged.
    Oh, and as far as my family knows…….that is the only way cheesecakes are made! Shh! ?

  96. Love the title of your book!!

  97. Linda Chan says:

    I really enjoyed this post. It struck a chord with me, a fellow recovering perfectionist.

  98. Wow! Kind of scary to think we’re approachjng the holidays again. Every year I say I am not going to have a “freak out” moment and every year I end up having one anyway. While I’ve come a long way, I still struggle at times with wanting everything to be “perfect”

  99. I always have these ideas in my head of how and what will make the holidays the most memorable and then I feel I’ve let others down along with myself when things don’t happen or turn out the way I had envisioned. As long as my sons know (they do) why we celebrate Christmas then all the other “stuff” shouldn’t matter.

  100. Gosh I can soooo identify with this! When I was growing up we had Christmas at my grandparents house. 30 people in a tiny little house. It was crowded…we had lots of great food, more than enough. My granddaddy always got up all through the night and basted our turkey for Christmas day and everything was made from scratch. Of course, when my husband and I married my Mama carried on the tradition after Memama and Granddaddy were gone, but then I had to be a grown- up and help get all those traditions completed and food on the table to feed my kids. Whew! Ohhhh my gosh…how did the women in my family even have any strength left at the end of the day?!? Lordy Lordy I didn’t realize way back then what all was involved to make those traditions happen. Lost my sweet Mama to breast cancer 5-1/2 years ago, so I am now the so-called “matriarch” of the family. I tried to make all that food from scratch at first, but then realized it was time to simplify…..I WAS WORN SLAP DAB OUT! I’m still working on it, but it’s better to have some store bought sweet potatoes and a few extra things picked up from the deli and still have some strength to enjoy the holidays! 🙂 And…the grandbebe’s don’t even realize it’s not home-cooked! LOL I’m learning and googling lots of tips on making it easier…I’d rather be in the kitchen just a little while and then playing with my sweet babies! 🙂

  101. Perfection is indeed a great burden. Highly demending and never satisfied. Often, we see how perfection has torn great marriages and relationships apart.
    Great Blog! Thanks for sharing.

  102. Wonderful idea to give perfection the boot before I start to planning the “perfect” family Christmas again… 😉

  103. This looks like a wonderful series! It will help me get in the right frame of mind to celebrate this season.

  104. I try to remember that I cannot do it all….but sometimes it isn’t the expectations of others that do me in – it is my own expectations of a picture perfect Christmas that is the root cause of my problem. I have gotten better at asking my family members what their 3 favorite Christmas activities are….what 3 things they needed to DO for it to feel like Christmas to them – and those get scheduled FIRST. Everything else, anything else, is simply bonus.

  105. I love the idea that God wants my un-varnished, imperfect self! He certainly knows my heart and how it tenses at the idea of “how much should we spend on each of the nieces and nephews?” and “what if my sister says something rude?” and “how can it be perfect or even okay when we live with my in-laws?”.
    So why would I think I can fool Him with the fake smile and “everything is great” answer?
    Looking forward to this series!
    Thank you for sharing your stories and encouraging others!

  106. I’m so excited for this series about perfection at Christmas. My small group is almost finished reading Breaking Up with Perfect and it has been so excellent.

  107. So glad I found this blog! It really speaks to me!

  108. Just the title – Abandoned Pictures of Christmas – gives me pangs of guilt for all the Christmases I have NOT gotten pictures in the precious family Christmas albums I started. Even empty nest hasn’t given the time…..

    Good info! & encouragement!

  109. Oh my goodness…This blog speaks to me. I am a 47-yr. old homemaker looking to get back to part-time work and just returned home from a long lunch with 2 older ladies who I consider friends, but only see once a year even though we live in the same small town. We met because our husbands use to coach jr. football together and we all enjoy gardening/nature. One is 58, has kids and grandkids, works 3rd shift, and owns a hobby farm that sells pumpkins now and Christmas trees/wreaths soon. She is not a perfectionist, but has a heart of gold…looks for the good in all. The other has no children and not much family, but is married, a 65 year old perfectionist, and enjoys her dog while being retired and has some health issues. She picked me up in her new car and dropped me off, then asked if she could get a tour of our house. I use to be a perfectionist, and maybe still am on certain days. I was a bit reluctant, but said yes with the stipulation that she not expect perfection. Our house has the lived-in look with a husband and 3 teenage kids. She said she could overlook the mess. She has a good heart too, but worries about her husband’s health. I told her if her husband dies before her, we would be there for her. I let my guard down and told my husband will need a kidney transplant in a few years, so we will probably down size, to save money. I don’t tell many people, because I am a perfectionist and pretend everything is wonderful, but in this scenario I believed we could help each other, even though we are different ages and stages of our lives. I am glad I didn’t let perfectionism get in the way of letting her into my cluttered home and into my insecure heart. Thanks for your blog.

  110. Great reminder before the madness begins!

  111. Heather G says:

    I am so glad the link to this blog was in today’s devotional. I find it so difficult around the holidays to just let things be as they are. I see perfection, and ultimately make my husband’s Christmas no fun at all. Usually, for me, frustration leads to mistakes, and the mistakes have led to things such as spilled non whipped cream curdling under my stove and broken ornaments because the ribbon wasn’t just perfect. This year my goal is to let go and enjoy the time of year and the season. The time with my family is what’s perfect not the decorations.

  112. I am learning to be an non perfectionist too. I spent so much of my youth and the first forty years of my life trying to be a perfect daughter, granddaughter, sibling, cousin, student, girlfriend, friend, wife and then Mother. I set myself up for failure so many times. I thought perfection was what God expected of me. I have two boys and expecting them to be excited about the holidays, was impossible.They did so much crafting at school, that they hated me even mentioning, “Let’s do something together.”

  113. Amber Crist says:

    Your vulnerability is a welcomed change. How wonderful that someone isn’t ashamed to share their struggles to let others know that they aren’t alone! Thank you so much for your blog and for the advice.

  114. Thank you so much for this devotional. Struggled for years trying to make happy memories, but the stress, weariness and ‘wanting to do it all’ have dampened and hindered the joy which Christmas should bring. I really want to make some changes.

  115. Great blog! Thankful and taking to heart what’s been shared to help savor the holidays rather than stress over them. Intentionally preparing and praying.

  116. Holidays are always such a challenge to me, a reminder of everything I do wrong and everything I am not. How God pours His grace and mercy out through the love and hope you present here.
    Thank you!

  117. I sobbed and sobbed through most of this devotional in blog post. My pursuit of perfection is definitely hurting my family and I feel so guilty. We didn’t have traditions when I was younger it was a very dysfunctional environment so I try so hard to make everything the best for my family and trying to make it the best or make it perfect I’m really just adding stress and strife that doesn’t need to be here. This year I want to to savor the time I have with my little one s.

  118. Thank you for this blog post. I’ve really had to learn the “less is more” thought process for the Holidays in the last few years. It was honestly so much less stressful to not worry whether EVERY single ornament made it on the tree…or that each family member was present during tree trimming…or that they really don’t like my Christmas Eve oyster stew…or that we didn’t use the fine china because no one cared to clean it. As my kids get older, I’ve learned to be more flexible, and learn that it’s okay if the kids don’t feel the “traditions” I grew up with are as important to them as they were to me. The focus should be on spending time with God and with family.

  119. One of my favorite Thanksgivings was when I had my mom and stepdad over, told them to wear sweatpants and explained we would eat “when it was ready.” No pressure, no expectations… It was WONDERFUL!!

  120. I found that traditions become what you embrace and repeat. When we found that wrestling the tree indoors and into the stand produced a lot of angry comments toward the uncooperative tree and stand, that became part of the tradition for bringing in the tree! We were able to laugh at our frustration, instead of taking it out on each other. And once it was expected, it didn’t seem as bad. I too encountered the football vs. Christmas Carols issue, so football became the tree tradition, and I listened to carols on my own.

  121. Thanks for the reminder and encouraging words. I’m excited for the next few days.

  122. Leisa Patrick says:

    Love this devotion today. It is so hard to let go of the perfectionist inside even though nothing is ever perfect here on earth. I am trying to finally realize how to live in the moment!

  123. I so needed this today! I’m looking forward to the other tips you have to offer.

  124. This is EXACTLY what I needed to hear before the holidays this year, and obviously I’m not the only one! My perfectionist planning of the holidays, which never lived up to my expectations, had ruined this joyous time of year for me for many years. I finally burned out, which was a true blessing because it made me reevaluate what the holidays (and especially Christmas) really means. It’s all about God and celebrating Him as we get to spend time with loved ones. Thank you for this timely reminder.

  125. This will be my first year with all three of my grandchildren…Am praying for great fun… I want to be the Nana on the floor seeing Christmas through the eyes of a 6, 3 and 1year old.

  126. This is such a help! I literally get butterflies in my stomach just thinking about the holidays and ALL of my perceived “must-haves.” I want so much to enjoy the celebration and remembrance of what Jesus did for me instead of worrying about giving my kids good holiday memories! Thank you!

  127. It certainly has taken me a lot of years to lower my expectations of the holidays, but I’m getting closer to being able to enjoy them however they work out, and especially to enjoy the people with whom I am celebrating.

  128. Jennifer O says:

    My mother was the holiday planner, cook, decorator, and hostess. When she got sick with cancer and passed away, those jobs fell to my sister-in-law and me. I definitely feel the pressure to make things “perfect” because this is the only time of year the whole family is together.

  129. Great ! Working to keep my eyes on Him

  130. Makes me feel a little more normal

  131. Another great devotional! Perfectionism is so controlling. i am so thankful that the LORD doesn’t expect us to be perfect and that He is perfect!

  132. Lensey M. says:

    Oh how I need this 5-day series! I have always loved the holidays. Thanksgiving to Christmas have always been my favorite time of year. I love family functions and Christmas shopping and decorating. BUT now I have 2 small children and a husband who “hates” the holidays. Family functions are now just plain exhausting–the idea of them makes me cringe. Christmas shopping is done online or in a huge rush during a few child-free hours. All Christmas decorating falls on my shoulders, as the husband refuses to help, and the kids are a little too young to help. Suffice it to say, the holidays have lost some of their magic. And my quest to be the perfect wife/mother/daughter/friend has not helped the situation. I’m looking forward to the remainder of this blog series, and I would love the chance to win those books. I’m pretty sure I am going to buy a copy of “Breaking up with Perfect” regardless. I think I could use it….

  133. I have loved reading all your stuff because I am always wanting things to be perfect and they always end up being anything but! I signed up for some of your emails and I had just read about as long as God is at whatever thing I am trying to make perfect, then it’s going to be okay. It came at a time where I was trying to make a baby shower perfect and once again it just wasnt what I envisioned, but God was definitely there with us and that mattered more! 🙂 Definitely have your book on my list!

  134. I am a perfectionist and a people pleaser from way back! I am a middle child to add to that. I need your book and I’d love to wear the bracelet as a reminder.

  135. Ann Alford says:

    Oh I do recognize myself in this post. Wish I would have read it years ago.

  136. Sign me up! I am done with perfect. I need grace to give and receive. Thank you

  137. Progress instead of protection….sounds good.

  138. Every year for several years now I have tried to break up with perfection, but it always tries to sneak in the back door again. It never wins, but it does leave frustration scattered all over the place. Thanks, Amy.

  139. Was just talking to my sis-in-law the other night about how I never look forward to the holidays…I can feel myself tense up just thinking about it! But I want to do better this year… I need to read that book 🙂

  140. I have been slowly letting go of expectations for some years now, and trying to focus on the true spirit of holidays, not just Christmas. This has become even more important this year, as it is the first year without my husband, who died this past summer. I intend to concentrate on the simple, joyful aspects, and let the rest go.

  141. I would love to have a joyful, unstressed CHRISTmas!

  142. Vinita Wrinkle says:

    I did the traditional holiday thing when my kids and grandchildren were small, but now put up a dinky little tree and a wreath for Christmas and leave the house the same for Thanksgiving. I was feeling a little guilty about that, but you are right, this way makes me happy, and I don’t have to be perfect.

  143. It is hare to believe it is already time to think about Christmas. I think starting now is the best way to avoid the Christmas cray-cray. Go ahead and get in the mindset of keeping things simple. Thanks for sharing!

  144. Thank goodness the link to this blog was sent to me in my Proverbs 31 devotion this morning! I’m currently a full-time student with a part-time job, and needless to say, it’s a struggle balancing school, work, a sorority, family, and a boyfriend while trying to be perfect at all of it. This post really spoke to me and I’m looking so forward to reading more. Thanks, Amy!

  145. This post is very timely as I think of what Christmas will be like this year. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized the importance of time with family and friends over all the perfectness I mistook as real. I’m happy to see I’m not the only one who can benefit from this blog.

  146. Okay, how did you do it? You must have peeked inside my home, my heart and my planner when writing this particular book. It is exactly what I have been praying for. Thank you.

  147. Perfection and the holidays, a whole new level…. oy!

  148. So refreshing to hear my Christmas doesn’t have to be perfect! Because I know it won’t be, and I need to let go of my expectations so I can enjoy it!!

  149. Thanks for the honesty in your post! What a great reminder that we will not find perfect on this earth; in ourselves or anyone else. Not in anything! Wishing you and your family the happiest this Christmas of 2015!

  150. Nancy Griggs says:

    Things have certainly changed for me in my old age. I am 74, live alone in a senior high rise and have no family near. My Christmas is spent with church family, mostly going to services. I sometimes put up a small tree but just for myself. I don’t get presents and am rarely invited to someone’s home. Christmas could be very lonely but I choose to be happy where and how I am. I spend time reading and thinking about the past. I find jOY in the midst of the season.

  151. Thank you for posting this blog. Im praying that I will surely hear and see what the Lord is saying. I surrender my heart to You Lord. Hear the prayers of my sisters here too. Thank you for Your constant gentle love toward us. Free us from the slavery of perfectionism. Bring out the beauty of our individualism and help us to accept ourselves in the beauty of ourselves. No more masks, no more trying to please others and deny ourselves for their acceptance. Make us brave in you, brave to be the unique reflection of Christ that You created. Help us to be honest, Lord.
    Thanks

  152. Thank You, this was just what I needed.

  153. In my early childhood, my parents always made Christmas a wonderful, special time and I loved it. As time went on, however, my parents began to slack off, they also had marital problems and began to forget about Holiday traditions altogether including abandoning the Christmas tree, any decorating and family meals on Christmas day or Thanksgiving. I missed that. So, now with my own family, I want to make everything as traditional and perfect as I can. I want my 5 children, my husband and myself to experience the most joyous time together. I will admit though that I get stressed trying to make it all perfect. I really need to learn to remember that if the ornaments on our tree are not in the perfect position, if my husband and boys turn on the game, if everyone would rather have a pack of oreos than me baking a homemade pie, that is okay! The most important part of it all is that we are together, celebrating and recognizing God’s faithfulness to us and His blessings!

  154. I literally laughed out loud about the curse word when the tree fell on you because I can so relate to that story. I am the self-confessed perfectionist in my family. I have been that way as long as I can remember. I see that manifesting in my youngest son and it honestly breaks my heart. I know how much pressure that perfectionists put on themselves and I pray that it doesn’t take him 40 years to figure out that it’s no way to live. As for now, I am turning to the Lord to help me to conquer this and praying for my son so that he can do the same.

  155. Thank you for sharing and I am breaking up with perfect. I also struggled to lose weight. I lost a good amount of weight 3 yrs ago and gained it all back and some. I know the reason is for not exercising and I do eat healthy. I haven’t had the time to start my exercise again and this past weekend our family moved to ID, it’s been a last minute move, my husband got a new job. Now, we are in the middle of looking for a home. As soon we could find a home, the movers will bring our stuffs. Still got a lot on my plate. My husband started his job today. I am trusting the Lord for the home that He has for us and I am not going to let worry or stress or perfection to creep in. Lord I need you help! Holy Spirit guide us through this time of change for our family. It has been a little hard on my two girls, but I know the Lord is working all things together for good. He’d brought us to this new place and we are trusting Him. He has already been using us to pray and encourage people on our trip and in our new town. I am looking forward to what The Lord going to do through us in this new town. Amen!

  156. Thanks for the blog, I’ll look forward to it!

  157. This is a description of me in years past! I am trying to change but sometimes feel the damage has already been done! Prasie God for Forgiveness and second chances!

  158. Thank you Amy, This is my most favorite time of year I love the fall, the smells, the food, the fun. I however hate the stress, and the disappointment I feel when I can’t do everything right on my “perfect” to do list. So this devotion was very much needed and I appreciate the time you spent putting it together. Thank you.

  159. Thank you for sharing from the heart! I am the perfectionist in my home and sadly have allowed it to rear it’s ugly head at times and hurt my kids and husbands feelings. Hoping to have a more peaceful, laid back holiday season this year!

  160. Nancy Schellack says:

    Hi, Amy…

    As the oldest of four girls, I was expected to set an example, and the standards in our house were pretty high. Fortunately, I’m wired to “wear that hat,” but I have spent my entire adult life struggling not to let my “bent” for excellence to turn into perfectionism, and mostly I’ve failed. Growing up, performance merited favor, so most of my self-worth has always been wrapped up in meeting (and exceeding) other people’s expectations. Though I was saved as a very young child, it was at age 43, in the middle of a life-threatening crisis, that I began to grasp for the first time God’s extravagant, unconditional love for me. I’m days away from my 58th birthday (Oct. 24), and I still struggle to get it right, but God is ever faithful at working to complete what He birthed in me. When I yield and confess my sin as his Holy Spirit dredges the depths of my soul to expose the things that grieve Him, I experience that endless, grace-giving, life-giving relationship that is remaking me into a vessel that gives Him glory. Maranatha! Nancy

  161. It’s so hard not to try for perfection since it’s all you see on media. I love your story. That is a real Christmas and I echo what others say – sons aren’t much interested in traditions

  162. Jill Newhouse says:

    Would love to read the book! Thank you!

  163. Oh, your story made me laugh out loud. I hope your arm is OK! You must have a scar there to remind you of that Effing-Fateful Christmas! The prize sounds like a dream come true. I am definitely a recovering perfection – seeking person, though I would deny it vehemently. Thank you for your ministry.

  164. This came at a perfect time (pardon the pun). I have been reading a book about perfectionism and this complements it beautifully. Especially handling the expectations of others. Just yesterday my mother asked “where is the autumn sweatshirt I bought you” when we were leaving for a weiner roast. Ugh!

  165. Thankful for ladies like you that remind us to slow down and to rid the perfectionism during the wonderful season of CELEBRATING OUR SAVIOR. Thank you for sharing your struggles in being perfect.

  166. I would love to read your book and help me get rid of my “perfection attitue” and be the mother and wife my family would enjoy.

  167. I love the humor into your Perfectionism stories – sometimes I don’t let myself see the humor in mine because I’m too busy seeing the “mess up” in it! I’d love to read your book to help move me toward a new perspective! Looking forward to reading your blog the rest of the week to see what else you have to share with me!!

  168. Candace Ledbetter says:

    A great reminder to start off the week and the holiday season.

  169. Darlene Dunlap says:

    Thank you for this. It is so me and my family. I stress every year to make the holidays perfect and try to keep or start a new tradition. Never works. I end miserable and stressed.

  170. Thanks for this funny reminder of what real holidays look like! And, thanks for the giveaway. 🙂

  171. Scrolled through a few comments quickly…they resonated with me: overly critical people making demands/harshing the good vibes, the older I’m getting the less “perfect” is a pursuit….etc….this is a good EARLY reminder to get in the MINDSET of a more peaceful holiday season, keeping Christ at the center of it all (by invitation, not wrapped up in a glitter bow like a hostage! Ha!).

  172. Kelly Turnbow says:

    I gave up being perfect years ago; however, I do struggle with just being sad during this time of year because we are so busy and everyone is going in different directions (my children are older). I so miss the times when they were little and enjoyed helping me with the tree, making cookies, wrapping gifts….those are the things that depress me, if I let them. This year, I am going to cherish the memories and create new memories. Thank you!

  173. I enjoyed reading this blog post. While I don’t struggle with perfectionism, I have a good friend who does and I would love for her to read this. Thank you for sharing your struggles with us.

  174. Thank you, Amy, for your honesty at Encouragement for Today and the above article! I am trying to become more like Mary and less like Martha. That is so challenging for this perfectionist, but ” I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13 NKJV

  175. Ashley Harrell says:

    Merry early Christmas! What a wonderfully calming & peaceful way to start the holiday season!!!
    Thank you for your transparency & love!

  176. Vicki Cash says:

    Thanks for reminding us before the decorating season starts what is important. Also love the recipe, I will change out the cherries but will use and not worry about a dish to take to so many parties over the holidays.

  177. Oh Amy, Thank you for the reminder. It is hard to believe that Christmas is coming so quickly. We have recently moved and the boxes are every where. Praying that I find what I know we have. I believe that these boxes are multiplying.

  178. I love this post! And thank you for the reminder that it doesn’t have to be perfect! I (and many others) describe myself as a perfectionist. I always want the holidays to be perfect but they NEVER turn out as well as I plan. I can’t wait to get a copy of the book and read it too!

  179. I seem to have exaggerated the holiday memories of the past and have struggled with comparing them to the less than perfect real life holiday experiences. Great post. May this year be more about Jesus and less about comparing.

  180. I heard your interview on God-Centered Mom this morning and your thoughts really touched my heart. Your book sounds like something I need on my to-read list.

  181. Thank you for the encouragement to focus on people and not making everything “perfect” or trying to be the “perfect” mom!

  182. Carol Love says:

    Thanks for telling it like it is. For so many years I was depressed starting in late October until after the New Year. I thought it was because my husband was always a Grinch at Christmas. Christmas was a big deal in my family. It was busy and hectic and noisy and I got to be Santa for everyone. I was the holder of the goodies. They all came to me, except my presents, and I wrapped them and hid them until Christmas Eve. You get the picture. Then I married Bob and we were in the military and stationed far away from all that. And I dreaded that time of year. No hectic, frantic, bakery business (my family business). No wrapping and hiding gifts. No anything. And I mourned. Now as we are much older, we live full time in a Motor Home and are still far from family. No decorations at all. Still not looking forward to this season. At least we will be working. Less time on my hands. I will make some effort to honor the holidays but that will be far from any tradition I have ever experienced – except that I will be in a Christmas Cantata this year.

  183. Thank you for sharing from your heart! This is a great reminder to my not-so-perfect self, to not to try to be PERFECT and enjoy the Holidays as Christ meant for them to be enjoyed. It’s not about the gifts, decorations and food, it’s about the love that you share with family and friends.

  184. Every year I say I am going to do things differently to prepare myself for the madness of the holidays. I am looking forward to checking out your book and forever grateful this came across my screen BEFORE the holidays attacked my spirit. I literally could have written your story. I am afraid my children have the same holiday stories themselves. Time to write a new chapter in my life! Lol
    Thank you for your inspiration.
    Anne

  185. Laura Hoevener says:

    As an industrial engineer, I am always trying to fix and improve things. I need to remember that I need to love my kids more than fix them. 🙂

  186. Thank you so much for starting this series so early. The Christmas holidays are my favorite time of year, but come so th so many demands. I love the video where you said (paraphrased) pray early and often. I’m including this praye in my daily devotion time from now to when school starts back in January!

  187. Thanks for the reminder that perfection doesn’t have to reign in our homes!

  188. Thank you Jesus that you are perfect… So I don’t have to be 🙂

  189. There was a time when my neighbors all brought gifts right before Christmas. A plate of homemade fudge. A whole ham. Christmas cookies.
    That was such pressure when I had young children. I was lucky if I got my own cooking done, never mind gifts for the people in my neighborhood.
    I tried.
    I even succeeded a couple of times.
    But not without angst.

  190. Amy,
    Thank you for your story!! I laughed only because i’ve so been there. I first heard you on the past POBS conference call series and your book is on my list to read. I’ve got some breaking up to do.

  191. I am looking forward to this series as The Christmas season approaches!

  192. A few years ago I decided what gets done gets done and what doesn’t, then that’s ok! I even cook my turkey the day before so the stress of the turkey is not even there. All the veggies are freshly cooked but I warm enough turkey in the gravy for dinner and the clean up is soooo easy! No-one complained. Keep it simple to focus on what Christmas is all about.

  193. This really spoke to me today! Lately God has really been laying it on my heart that all of my perfectionist ways have been aimed at appearing to be the perfect wife, mom and friend. However the truth of what this has led to is me spending more time cleaning, cooking and planning than playing, reading and enjoying my family. And the “friends” aren’t true friends. I don’t have a single woman in my life that I could call and have a true conversation with about issues I am having or what I am feeling.

    God has blessed me with my husband and children and he is laying it on my heart to lose my perfectionism and enjoy the time I have with them! I am thankful for your blogs and thoughts to assist me in this process!

  194. Thank you, I always find a new way to look at things when I read your posts. I also felt a little better that maybe I cursed a little when the kitchen and basement flooded:)

  195. So hard for me not to fall into that perfection trap! Thank you for your honesty and encouragement:)

  196. Thank you for your honesty and for sharing with us! Just like your video said, I too am thankful you are doing this short series BEFORE the holidays so I can be in constant prayer and prepare my heart BEFORE the season arrives. Just thought of entering into the holidays with a clear mind and heart for Jesus already brings a sense of peace! I’m looking forward to following along for the next 4 days as well!!! Excited to “abandon” my view of perfectionism this year!!!!

  197. Thank you for taking the time to write this blog. Reading it felt as if someone had written a story from my holiday! It is an incredible comfort to know that I am not alone in my feelings and fears of not quite measuring up to all the “pinterest moms” out there. My Christmas fell apart last year and for the first time in my life, I didn’t even want to celebrate at all. I never want to feel that way again. I can’t wait to read your blog each day this week and see what you have in store for us!

  198. Thank you so much for the post today. This is one of the things we don’t recognize or talk about if we do. Perfectionism has caused me so much unhappiness in life, just not at Christmas time.

  199. Denise Turner says:

    Your blog is encouraging to me. Thank you!

  200. Brenda Lamers says:

    I love the recipe. The 4 letter word story is so real–it touched me. Over the years I have simplified my holidays tremendously and am much more joyful all the time, including the holidays.

  201. This is my favorite time of year, yet my most stressful. I needed this devotional so much. Every year I don’t want to be stressed but seem to be anyway. Too many expectations I put on myself.

  202. Thank you for the great reminder. Choosing people & presence instead of perfectionism & presents is how I want my holiday season to be!

  203. Thank you for your needed words. The extended family has already started to talk about the holidays and I could feel the stress taking hold!

  204. Thank you for the reminders. When my kids were little I wanted everything perfect like my Mom had done. But I always fell short. I now have my daughter and her family living with me and I force myself to let go of the idea of perfect. I want to enjoy everyday with my grand kids! Can’t wait to try the cherry cheesecake dip!!

  205. Right before I got to this e-mail in my inbox, I was reading over the others that I had received about upcoming holiday meals, planning and all the things!! I had just started to feel a tinge of anxiety about the upcoming busy season, and then I read this…
    I have been wanting to break up with my perfection for a long time, and after going through the OBS for Glynnis Whitwer’s Taming Your To Do List, I am more determined than ever. I love this post today – thank you for being open and honest and for helping us remember where our true selves should be focused in the Advent season.

  206. My story is, I’ve found that at least for myself everything is always a mess,
    (not according to others) I never feel the home is good enough for people to come over. I just can’t get things perfect it’s impossiple i’ve missed out on so much because I’m trying to be and do something that just isn’t God’s will I’ve wasted so many years I haven’t been hospitable I haven’t been welcoming I hate the thought of someone coming over. Finally or at least I’m trying to learn it’s not my house my things or the way things look, they are coming because they want to spend time with me to have fellowship to love and laugh. I’ve learned that perfectionests never seem to get everything done because if it can’t be done right and perfect or quick enough they give up. My Hubby just went to be with the Lord, this will be my first Christmas without him I am 67 years old and I realize now all the time that was wasted I can’t get those years back but I can help my kids and grandkids not to fuss about the little things to enjoy each others company and to always have the joy of the Lord and be a light to others, it’s not about stuff and being perfect because none of us are that.
    Thank you, God Bless you all, Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Joyful Blessed Christmas!

  207. Looking forward to this topic. Putting up the tree was my favorite childhood tradition. It became a yearly struggle for my young family. Things got better when I chose not to control the process. I can always move a few ornaments later to get the look. Each child has his own ornaments to put up. Everyone enjoys being a part of this tradition.

  208. Emily Brunker says:

    I came to visit your blog after this morning’s Proverbs 31 devotional and I am glad I did. Thanks for addressing this topic now – before the craziness of the holiday season begins. I need to make a commitment to myself now to focus on joy and relationships rather than checking items off a to-do list this season. My dad has Parkinson’s which has been progressing. For the last few years, we’ve been trying to do our family Christmases the same as always including the annual trip to the tree farm to chop down the tree, drag it back to the truck, load it, and haul it home to set it up. It’s been painful to watch my dad try to struggle through these tasks in order to not break tradition, but no one from my family seems to have the courage to say “This is silly!” I want to have the courage this year to say it’s ok to break tradition and do what we can manage instead of trying to live up to our idea of “a perfect Christmas.” I know we could replace that tradition with something more appropriate that will give us more joy and less headache and heartache. Thank you for the inspiration and motivation!

  209. Overwhelmed with time and funds to do it all ‘right’. Trying to simplify and prioritize. Claiming that I can be myself and make our own new traditions while holding on to some from the past. Need to let go of others that don’t have true meaning.

  210. I’ve been realizing this more and more the last few years, but still need to work on expectations and “letting go”.
    Thanks for the blog!

  211. Not trying to make everything perfect would make everything more enjoyable.

  212. As the first year that our children now have their own families, we begin a new phase of celebrating Christmas. Of course, I want it to be perfect, so it is the “perfect” time to start thinking about how that will be! Time to let go of the expectations I always put on myself and my family and form traditions that let us concentrate on just being together and put Christ at the forefront of our celebrations. Thanks for this thought provoking blog. I look forward to what’s to come!

  213. As I was reading this, I thought about the long list of to-do’s sitting on the bar. Each year I write out a long list of things we didn’t get done during the year to make the house just a little bit nicer for Christmas eve and Christmas day. We host both to a large amount of family and friends. My husband and I get so exhausted just trying to do these that we don’t enjoy the season like we should. When everyone gets to the house, I’ve found myself sitting down, just staring at the wall instead of enjoying people and visiting. Every year I tell myself it will be different, but I’ve already started the madness with that evil list. I think I will mark some of those things off the list today. Thank you for your insight. I needed it.

  214. I can SO relate to this! I have been a perfectionist for quite a long time. My father is that way, so I guess it rubbed off. But recently my pastor preached a sermon on perfectionism. I felt like God was speaking directly to me. He said that perfectionism is a sin because only God is perfect. We are not God. We are to strive to be like Jesus, but we will never be him. So….let go of it and be all that God created us to be. We are human, we will never be perfect until we go to be with our King! Well, I have thought long and hard on all of that and have been constantly reminding myself that it’s ok to be real. It’s ok to be imperfect. It’s ok to be who God created me to be. I am not perfect, but I AM a child of the King!! Therefore, I am worthy to be loved as me! Thank you for being real and sharing yourself transparently. I would LOVE to have these resources to remind me as I am always struggling with my perfectionist self!!

  215. Thank you for sharing one of your authentic Christmas memories. I have more than a couple of my own. I have tried to make up for the Christmases my own mother didn’t care about in my home with my kids and it can be exhausting. I have asked them what are the most special parts of Christmas to my husband and kids, and it was surprising how different their answers were from my own. Love that you are doing this series and that you chose October so we could get ourselves grounded before the chaos hits. thanks.

  216. Thanks for this timely reminder, as I was just thinking this weekend how I needed to rearrange the living room for the perfect setting of the Christmas tree. I do love to decorate at Christmas time, but while my husband says he loves to see the decorations, he doesn’t enjoy helping to put them up and that stresses me out! I need to reel in my expectations so that both of us can enjoy this season of love and family.

  217. I’m starting to think that I’m putting pressure on myself to be perfect and likeable to everyone. In my effort to be so, I lose sight of the fact that I was ma,de with purpose and that I am who I am because God made me that way. Now I just need to push my true self to get rid of the me I try to project.

  218. This blog is so timely for me. This is the Christmas that some of our children that live too far away to drive home, have very short times available from their jobs, and airfare is off the wall for the holiday travel are having to make hard decisions about where they will spend Christmas. At first thought, I felt Christmas will be ruined if they’re not here. I had a viewpoint of what the perfect Christmas had to look like, but then I read this blog today and now I am viewing things differently. Why would I want to put that kind of guilt on my children? I had to ask myself, “What if the cost to travel would really over burden them?” Do I want that? Of course not! So, now I am looking at it as, Christmas won’t be ruined—-it will just be different. After all, we will all be celebrating as one in spirit the birthday of Jesus Christ our Savior! That’s what makes for the perfect Christmas!

  219. It is so easy to get caught up in the busy- ness of the season and lose sight of what it is all about. Thank you for this reminder!

  220. Amy, you have really hit the nail on the head with this blog. I have struggled with unrealistic expectations resulting in disappointment quite often. Being a perfectionist has contributed to this. The Lord has been working in my heart to focus on what is important and to let go of what is not important. I am still in the process of this. I appreciate your thoughts so much. I know with God’s help I will continue to improve in this area. Thank you for the early reminders as we approach the holidays.
    Deb

  221. Thank you for your honesty. I needed to hear this!

  222. Thanks for this encouragement as we head into the season. Love the story about the tree falling, those times are often the best memories.

  223. This is something I have to keep in mind constantly during the holidays. When I celebrate Christmas for anyone before Christ (my family, my self), I am going to miss his peace.

  224. Barbie Loughlin says:

    Healing to read that things don’t make the holidays, rather simple sharing, emphasis on simple

  225. I have had a huge struggle with perfectionism. I am still discovering it’s origins and the extent to which I have tried to create my family in my image to everyone’s detriment. Sometimes I get very discouraged because I just turned 54 and old habits die hard. I wonder if I can turn from these dysfunctional ways that have not served me well. I do know God is faithful and what he began in me He will complete with or without my help!

  226. Paula Lloyd says:

    The last few years I have really been releasing the perfectionist hold on my Christmas decorating extravaganza.

  227. I’m so happy to have read this, this morning. Just last night my husband and I were chatting about our plans for the upcoming holidays, and all I could picture was how messy and stressed out I would feel. Which certainly isn’t the feeling u want when I think of my favorite time of the year. Thank you for writing about this and encouraging non perfection 🙂

  228. Christmas has not quite been the same for the past three years. Living with a friend in ‘her space’, trying to fit in with different traditions and having my memories all packed away, made for just kind of going through the motions.
    This year I so want to pull out some of those memories and traditions from years past. Though in a different shared space, I have hopes of integrating our favorite things and making this home a place we both want to share with others. It may be small, but it is warm with God’s love. Isn’t that really what Christmas is all about?

  229. Thank you, Amy, for keeping it real.

  230. Today is the day I traditionally begin to prepare for Christmas. The timing was “perfect” (sorry), reminding me to make this Christmas joyful instead of stressful.

  231. Margaret Grenawalt says:

    Tradition has always been important to me and my family, especially at the holidays. The problem is that the traditions my family had growing up and those my own family established as my son was growing up, just can’t be duplicated the way I wish they could be in my head and heart! Today’s blog really spoke to me about what it truly important coming into the holiday season — I’m going to work towards making sure there is “white space” in my schedule so I’m not stressed out, and make sure to include only the agreed-upon traditions that the rest of my family wants to include, letting the rest go without regret. Most of all, I want to remember the whole reason for celebrating, so I have the joy of Jesus fueling my attitude.

  232. Suzie Quebedeaux says:

    I’m ashamed to say this used to be me. I would actually move the ornaments my boys would put on the tree because they weren’t in the “right” spot. I gave up perfection the year year my oldest son noticed and said he wasn’t going to help anymore because mom’s just going to move it anyway. That was the year I gave the tree trimming job to them. Afterward they thanked me over and over again saying they had the best time. That’s when I realized my need for perfection was hurting them. We now decide as a family what we want to do during the holiday season and what can be let go of. I lost my husband (he was only 53 years old so we are still in shock) to a massive heart attack Sept 19. This year we will be making new traditions

  233. I am so very blessed by and thankful for your honesty in this article. I have been trying for a couple of years now to “break up with perfectionism” -once I was able to put a name to it. By God’s grace, I have been slowly (very slowly!) letting go of the “shoulds” in my head and on my list which only make me feel like a failure at Christianity, wife-hood, mother-hood… and basically everything. It’s an encouragement to know I’m not alone.

  234. Nicole Windham says:

    I love it that you mentioned breaking with tradition if that’s what you feel led to do. It’s OK to forego turkey and dressing for fajitas and tacos (I live in Texas). But every year when I bring this up, my family looks at me like I’ve lost my mind and have become the Grinch that is threatening to steal their Christmas. Guess how many of them help me in the kitchen? Zero. This year I’m going to invite them to join me in making the menu and we might just end up having an international Christmas.

  235. Thank you coming from a professed control freak. Working significantly on the perfectionism and control. Getting better in baby steps!

  236. This is such a welcome blog post. I really, really needed to read this as we enter into the holiday season. I want the holidays to be full of love and happy memories for my family and my perfectionism just gets in the way. I’m working on it. This will help me to remember that I am not alone and I can rest in my Father during this time. Things will fall into place and be what they will be (and will probably be much better than they would have been otherwise!). Thank you.

  237. Rachel D. says:

    Not everytHing needs to be perfect..I know I struggle with wanting to have control and being stubborn when I shouldn’t. .I know that I have failed many times and I need to enjoy life more. .I know that God has blessed my family and I..I would love to win this giveaway, I need those words of wisdom!
    Rachel

  238. Love this! So very true! I have pictures of those perfect Christmas pictures and always wanted those for my family. Now that my girls are grown, I still try to provide those Christmas moments, however, I have let go of some of it! We have those stories to tell of the times when mom dropped the full pan of turkey stuff, broke the bowl and there was no stuffing that year! Oh well. Thank you for sharing.

  239. We used to do too much related to the holidays (or at least I did), and I always ended up angry and stressed by the time Christmas came. In recent years, I have started getting holiday shopping done before December starts, and any mailed gifts go out in the first week of December. I only make our traditional cookies, and we stay home for the holidays. The Christmas season focuses on Advent and it’s themes instead of hurry and crazy and materialism and we are so much happier.

  240. I just love the idea of “Breaking up with Perfect”! The post regarding your tree incident parallels so many Christmases I’ve tried to make “perfect”. I am determined to be a “recovering perfectionist” and am so excited to find the encouragement here! Many blessings and thank you for providing these wonderful resources so we can embrace who He made us to be, just as we are!!!

  241. Lisa White says:

    Thanks for this; I already feel myself getting stressed over others’ expectations of me and the holidays.

  242. Tina Cheng says:

    Thank you for sharing and your honesty! I look forward to reading your blog posts between now and Christmas. Need to be daily reminded that it is okay not to be perfect!

  243. Thank you for this encouragement! I grew up with a perfectionist mom. Christmases at our house were usually stressful and exhausting. I’m a newlywed, and I want to change the perfectionist pattern this first Christmas with my husband. I can’t wait to read more tips!

  244. Thanks for the challenge to be myself and not try to meet everyone else’s expectations.

  245. Perfectionism is something I’ve dealt with my whole life. This has affected me being able to accept God’s grace and realize I will never measure up but I don’t have to. God has been working in my heart and helping me let go of my versions of perfection, for His perfecting grace. It’s something that I have to daily sometimes minute-ly, work on, but with Goda strength I can break up with perfectionism.

  246. Great article with timely reminders for the upcoming holiday season!

  247. must confess my “perfectionist” has already been stressing for the past month over “how to get it all done”! Lots of travel planned leaving very little time to “transform” homefront into “christmas” decor–was a great reminder today to focus on fun and memories!

  248. This brings back memories, Amy. I’ve always loved Christmas and worked hard to ‘make it happen just right ‘. Eventually, and with great sadness, I realized that most of it didn’t matter to my people except if we were having guests.
    We’ve been empty nesters for a while now. Friends and family members have moved away. I started asking more questions about what really matters to hubby and I work on that and what is happy for me.
    Thanks for the nudge to start thinking about this year.

  249. Anastasia says:

    What a relief to read so many similar stories. I so appreciate your honesty. I seem to turn into the worst version of myself around Christmas. I haven’t been married very long and have two step children that are quasi-adults and a DH that dearly misses their toddler days. In efforts to make new family memories I look back and am sad to say that I think I was the Grinch who stole Christmas by trying to enforce my ideas of a perfect Christmas on my new family. I want – need – Christmas to be different this year by breaking up with the perfectionist vision in my head and let God guide our plans. The new traditions I tried to impose never stuck anyway because they weren’t what my family wanted and were thrust upon them by a frazzled and insecure stepmother and wife. I’m going to print out this blog as a reminder and blueprint to approach this holiday with His grace.

  250. I can remember past holidays in which I had great expectations, but reality kicked in and I ended with a “just get me through this” state of mind. As I have learned tricks to make the meal go easier over the years, it’s gotten better. However, as loved ones have passed on from this life, those of us left just don’t get together like we used to and it all feels different when we do. I will strive to make new memories for my kids during these times that they can hopefully carry with them of how we kept it simple, but the feeling of joy, love and peace is what they’ll remember most.

  251. Thank you for your blog. I do so want to enjoy Christmas with my family but like you said so much gets in the way. Can this year be different?

  252. Christmas is such a wonderful time of the year with so many opportunities for wonderful. However, I think it’s easy to try to grip it so hard we just miss it and end up with frustration. Love the wonderful reminder in the article. Thank you!

  253. Angela Montgomery says:

    When I stop and think of true perfectionism, I stand in awe of God’s handiwork. Thanks for the reminder that it’s the time we spend with our loved ones that count. Make it a perfect day in the Lord.

  254. Natali Evans says:

    Yes! I needed to hear this. It’s going to be different this year!

  255. Danielle R. says:

    Thank you so much for sharing! I loved the quote by Anna Quindlen, “Perfection is static, even boring. Imitations are redundant. Your true unvarnished self is what is wanted.” And would agree with you that God desires your authentic self which He created in His image! How incredible!
    Thanks for the encouragement and reminder to let God be the focus of this holiday season.

  256. Perfection at Christmas used to make me a mess. One year we chose to celebrate Christmas without any decorations, tree, cookies, gifts, etc. We focused on the gift of Christ and were tremendously blessed! Perfection still threatens to steal joy, but I fix my focus on the Lord!

  257. Lisa Osterlind says:

    I really need to stop trying to have the perfect holidays…
    I’m going to really give it a shot.

  258. Samantha F. says:

    Thank you for sharing! I am a perfectionist, and it has very recently been brought to my attention that it is damaging relationships with those closest to me. I’m grateful to have found this blog series and look forward to the rest of the week.

  259. Nicely said and very true!! Learning each year what my whole family enjoys doing together and what traditions are okay to set aside but remember fondly.

  260. Wow. Good words and so hard for the codependent in me. I want to plan it all to perfection. I’m learning more and more to not sweat the to do list and just be available to God. Thank you.

  261. i came to a screeching holiday halt some years ago, when I recognized that my family’s fractured relationships prevented us from ever enjoying that “perfect” Christmas. I then planned for an “imperfect” Christmas! It became a more relaxed, laid-back time when I lowered my expectations of what I thought it should be.

    Thank you for opening up and welcoming a more realistic view of family celebrations.

  262. Every time we do a special event at our home, I stress out myself in my family. Dear Lord please help me not to strive for everything to be perfect. I just want to build special memories without the stress.

  263. “Mama’s in a snit.” This line is dead on and made me laugh. I don’t have kids, but, like you, I don’t love to cook. Most of my recent holidays involve fires in the oven or other culinary nightmares. I’m blessed with a lovely family, all of whom have a sense of humor about “smoked” pumpkin cheesecake and hours-long oven cleaning adventures. I’m looking forward to reading Ann Voskamp’s Greatest Gift this year to prepare for the season, and in great news, I’m not hosting Christmas this year. So maybe I’ll volunteer to being the cheesecake dip and leave the pies and hams and casseroles to someone way more skilled. Blessings to you in the season ahead!

  264. Such a timely subject for me. I’m already feeling the weight of trying to do it all…get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas the week of Thanksgiving with my 2 childrens families plus sending a meaningful box off to our 3rd child and her family who will spend their first holiday season in Indonesia(and of course that should go off in about a week). I look forward to seeing God free me from the perfection struggles I’ve carried my whole life. I know my family would much rather have a relaxed Mom to visit with and play with grandchildren while we celebrate than the harried Mom I’ve been in the past.

  265. I appreciate “real” people sharing their not so “perfect” moments. Thank you as it helps me keep my focus on knowing I’m growing even when I fail.

  266. Wanda Carlton says:

    I had a great laughter at your story, and it reminded me of one of my “fits” a few years back.the first day AFTER Christmas I tore our tree down after a fight with my daughter over her cappuccino maker. Not only four but three and five letter words spewed out of my mouth.
    I have got to break up with perfectionism!

  267. Perfect timing! I was just thinking over the weekend about how close Christmas is and all the “stuff” that has to be done between now and then. I love the mindset of not being perfect and allowing some things to go and being present in the moment instead of allowing myself to get so stressed that I make everyone around me miserable including myself. I am looking forward to reading many of the books mentioned in this post.

  268. My families, “Christmas to Remember,” was last year when we had 21 family members (grown children, grown grandchildren and young great grand children in our single wide mobile home.) As I was trying to let little ones tell the Christmas story the grown up ones wouldn’t hush until I yelled, “shut up!” They were all so shocked that this little old, extra polite Grandma would do this that silence reigned. Needless to say apologies had to be made! Brenda

  269. I am a perfectionist in so many areas. Thank you for making me realize I need to break up with that part of myself!

  270. What a great reminder to have at the very beginning of this season!! It often sneaks up on me and then I’m left playing catch up. Which leaves little time to spend with God. It also leaves little time to be intentional with my young kiddos. I want them to learn the true meaning of the season rather than getting sucked into the hustle and bustle of the season.

  271. Thank you for sharing your Christmas tree story with us. I really needed to be reminded that our Christmas traditions do not need to be perfect! I look forward to reading the daily blog and hope I will be able to let go of what my mind tells me are the perfect Christmas traditions.

  272. Lynette Burner says:

    I like your article. I grew up with a perfectionist who thought appearance was more important than relationship. After struggling to meet this parents expectations I finally comprehended reality and gave up. I have been slightly “grinch-like” in my view of Christmas. It feels like Satan’s plan to steal from already overly busy Mamma’s to keep them from the best things that God has for them. When my kids were young we did Christmas Carols in our neighborhood with the neighbor’s that we enjoyed and we did an advent Tree devotional that was great at helping us focus on the real meaning of Christmas. The one thing I haven’t given up is sending cards, which I enjoy. I have had fun the last few years with my husband taking a full day off work and just shopping together. It makes things less crazy.

  273. Jennifer D. says:

    I’m thankful that you started me thinking about Christmas in the right way. I tend to go a little over the top in order to create the “perfect Christmas”. Then I’m easily disappointed when perfection doesn’t occur. I can’t wait to read your book.

  274. Thanks Anne for your post today. As a fellow recovering perfectionist it’s so easy to get sucked into the the impossible perfect family holiday vision. I was just thinking it might be ok to give myself a break about my less than magazine worthy basement…will that really draw me closer to God?

  275. Thank you for this great reminder. I so much desire a simpler, Christ-centered, holiday season and each year it still seems to be filled with too much.

  276. Amy, thank you for getting the holidays off to the right start for us – if Walmart and Target are putting up trees and ornaments its a sure sign we need to start now to prepare our hearts for Him so that the preparation is inward and whatever happens outward reflects our inner peace. Merry Christmas!

  277. I love the holiday season beginning with thanksgiving its all uphil from there. All the food and family and even alone i find joy. Then to top it off with Christmas who could ask for more. Its not about how many gifts abound its the smells and sounds and good cheer. Its about a little baby who turned into my King and honoring Him by loving my family without commercialism of the natural world. To God be the GLORY

  278. Ashley S. says:

    Yes! Would like to read your book 🙂 the struggle is real

  279. Amber Butte says:

    Great, and very funny, reminder. I am definitely a work in progress. I’ve come a long way, but have a ways to go.

  280. Great reminder of the year our tree fell down. I was upset at the time but we saved a few broken ornaments and still put them up missing pieces and all. It reminds me that Christmas still has meaning even if everything isn’t perfect. It is now part of our Christmas tradition story.

  281. This book would be perfect as I prepare for the holidays. I need help focusing on the reason for the season.

  282. Thank you for this post. Holidays bring out my most inner perfectionist which causes my family major stress. I have adopted a continuous reminder that PERFECTIONISM IS A PUNK! My daily reflection is that perfectionism and it’s cousin SHAME highlight my weaknesses. I make a conscious effort to replace them with GRACE. It is GRACE that covers my weaknesses and highlights my strengths. In my daily talks with God, I ask for help in replacing my need to be perfect with his grace. This holiday season I will be kicking perfectionism to the curb!

  283. Well, you hit the perfectionist nail on the head! This is something I have struggled with my whole life. Your devotional today is quite timely. My daughter and her family are coming today from overseas to visit. Of course, I want things to go well but I tend to put too much pressure on myself and others in my family . God has slowed me down with a bum shoulder over the last couple of weeks and so it’s not going to be quite as I envisioned. Thank you for sharing. I’m praying that I can put this into practice especially while they are here.

  284. I’ve discovered as I am getting older that I am a perfectionist as both my parents are as well. It saddens me how critical I am of my kids and husband and it makes for a unhappy household many times. Problem is …. I feel like I have no idea how to fix it or control it. I thinks the cure is God alone and time to change.

  285. Wow! This sounds just like me and still does . I thought nothing ever turned out right for any holiday and so I just gave up trying and thinking this is what it is it will never turn out right like I expected it to. Expecting so much and getting so little I was the failure.

  286. This is a perfect time to bring this subject up! I’ve always had a dream about what the perfect Christmas holiday season would be and have always been disappointed when the family doesn’t agree/participate the way I think they should or we just run out of time! I’m really hoping that this year will be different and your column is just what I need to get started. We won’t be seeing the kid and grandkids this year, so now is the time to sit down and think about what would make God happy for this holiday. Joy is going to be the goal for this year, not the stress! Thanks again

  287. Stacey Meredith says:

    I have been paralyzed by perfection throughout my career, life as a young married and mom of young children. I have noticed more than any other area, my friendships have suffered, or been almost non-existent. Because my house isn’t perfect and there’s a stain on the carpet and a water stain on the ceiling from an overflowing sink upstairs, and something always could be cleaner or newer or cuter… I have not opened my home and myself to others. And I really want those relationships and know I need them. I want this holiday season to be different. Looking forward to the series.

  288. Thanks for sharing your story! It seems like the more I try to have these great family experiences the more they fall apart. Just want to make traditions centered around Christ that my children will always remember! Can’t wait to read the rest of the series!

  289. Thank you for this reminder. Too many times I can get so caught up in it all and need to have it perfect for my family. But it’s the simole things we will most remember.

  290. Carol DeVries says:

    Thank-you for your reminders. Can’t believe Christmas is around the corner already. Looking forward to a week of incites.

  291. Perfect timing! I look forward to reading all of the devotions this week ?

  292. Funny how when we let go of perfection, we laugh a lot more! Your story made me laugh out loud. That’s something I find hard to do these days and past few years since I became a mom. My kids are the ones that need my smiles and laughter! Thank you for the reminder! We NEED the joy that comes from relaxing and letting go 🙂

  293. It’s hard for me to believe it’s almost holiday time again! Your P31 devotion and post are timely reminders for me to let go of my perfectionist ways and unrealistic expectations for the upcoming holiday season. Thanks for the chance to win such great prizes!

  294. I struggle with perfectionism in my daily walk.thank you for sharing.

  295. Andrea L. says:

    Thank you for the beautiful reminder to strive for things other than perfection, an unattainable goal anyway. I need to remember that God created us each uniquely and with our own special gifts and talents. I love the many comments above, thank you!

  296. I am still trying to learn that Jesus doesn’t want my “perfect”, He wants my heart.

  297. Thank you so much! Great reminders for focusing more on what’s truly important instead of perfect, not only at the holidays but through out the year.

  298. Pam Davis says:

    I was always that perfectionist, which was just a setup for disaster. The older I get, the less all that stuff matters. I have learned to focus more on family and less on all the rest. Thank you for sharing.

  299. I really dig your style of writing! I’ve subscribed to you and look forward to pursuing the fine art of not being a perfectionist along with you! Kristin

  300. Jenn Hively says:

    Such good reminders!

  301. I always loved decorating for Christmas. I loved everything about it. My husband has ruined it over the years. Decorating has become a chore. Two Christmas’ ago, he yelled at the kids when they woke him up because he had not gotten enough sleep and sent them all away crying. Last Christmas he was “sick”, hate filled, and ugly with all of us. I am a perfectionist and spent many years disappointed with his behavior that brought down all my hard work and fun. I honestly just want to enjoy a Christmas with no tears. The more we try to enjoy, the worse he is. I am hoping this will help me to keep it simple so we can all just give it a try at just enjoying despite him.

  302. Gretchen Scoleri says:

    Love the reminder and can certainly use the book. My daughter and I both struggle with this, and this would be great to read and pass on to Her! Blessings to you!!

  303. Kelley S. says:

    Great words of advice as I prepare for the holiday season.

  304. Loved this……….memories are important whether they are perfect or not :)!!

  305. Thank you for keeping it real!

  306. Laurie Lett says:

    I too am a perfectionist. In fact, I have given up on mailing out Christmas cards!!! I got tired of trying to have a perfect list of who to send then only to find myself that I got a card from somebody I did not expect then felt guilty for not sending my card to that person! Once I held back my cards till January 1st so I could see who I was supposed to send cards out to!!!

    Even last year I gave up and decided not to pull out our Christmas tree! It ended up feeling nothing like Christmas.

    Hope this year will be better!!!

  307. Yep. I needed to hear this. Before the hustle and bustle of the holidays begins. I am sorry to say I often push for the “perfect” image in my head rather than appreciating the perfection of what I have.

  308. Great thoughts! Thank you!

  309. Thank you for giving me this encouragement. It strikes a cord with me and reminds me of stories of my own!
    God Bless!

  310. I’m better at letting go of my perfectionism but still have a long way to go.

  311. I love this…especially grateful for the devotional suggestions. I have been letting go of perfect and worrying less about what I “should” be doing or what others think of me for about a year now. It’s a much more joyful path. Yet it’s easy to find those thoughts creeping back in during social times…kids’ birthday parties and football season and now the holidays. I find that letting go or “breaking up” is a daily thing and not something that comes naturally. Prayer is a necessity for it. I’ll check out the books and looking forward to the rest of the week!

  312. Thanks for starting this series in October. And thanks for the recipe! I will definitely try it.

  313. Thank you for your blog – I so needed to hear this. I like to try for perfection and it’s so reasuring to know that I don’t have to and I don’t have to DO everything. Thank you!

  314. My “Martha” self so often takes over. I would really like to be able to just relax and enjoy. Thank you for this reminder. This books sounds like something that my list-maker personality could really use! God bless you.

  315. Thanks for the reminder to keep it simple and have joy–that’s what our families will remember! 🙂 Great post!

  316. Perfectionism has set high expectations in my life that leave me feeling disappointed when things are going just fine. As my view changes on this, I am happier and so is my family. Thanks for sharing your story.

  317. Wow, it’s such a relief to know that I’m not alone in this struggle. I’m just beginning to see how unhappy I get when things aren’t perfect like I want. I don’t want my kids to remember like that….I want to remember all the fun times we had while decorating, cooking, wrapping gifts, etc. I really needed this right now before the season starts. Thank you!

  318. Krista Jeffries says:

    Thank you for this blog post! Something,it seems, I need to be reminded of DAILY!

  319. maybe I just went for my version of Christmas perfect because I failed so miserably the rest of the year due to NO energy after work. …the last few years I have just given up completely….going for minimal?….

  320. I have tried in the past, when my kids were little, to have the perfect Christmas. It always ended up with someone being disappointed or in a sibling argument. So much for a “perfect Christmas”. Since them, God has shown me what is truly important for our family at that time of year….making good memories, not wrapped up in perfection. That has been less stressful and more fun. We have laughter instead of tears.

  321. Jumped over here from your Proverbs 31 post this morning. Both were perfect (ha dump bump) reads for me this morning. Seriously, great for me to ponder as the holidays approach. Have a blessed day!

  322. Andrea caldwell says:

    I’ve been reminded again about not complaining , for me I start to complain when things don’t go the way I imagined and well who wants to be around a grumbly unhappy person! Thanks for ur story!

  323. Love this blog post. Thanks for the reminder as the craziness of the holidays start to kick in.

  324. Diana Jackson says:

    I have always had a problem in wanting the perfect Christmas tree. Ended up buying 2 Christmas trees one year when I just did not like the way the first one looked. Then when we moved on to artificial Christmas trees, I coveted a friends 14 ft Christmas tree. When we built our house, the ceiling in the living room and thus the roofline had to be tall enough to accommodate the 14 ft. tree that I planned on buying. I ended up buying a 9 1/2 ft tree the first year in our new house. It is the hardest thing to decorate: several trips up and down the ladder, moving the ladder around the tree to put the lights, garland and ornaments on, etc. When people comment on how beautiful the tree is, I have to be honest about me coveting my friends tree. I jokingly tell people that God either “Blessed me with a Curse, or “Cursed me with a Blessing”. Thankfully, God shielded me from buying that 14 ft. tree. That would have been horrible.

    Thank-you for your devotion this morning.

  325. “Savoring each moment” that’s the statement that stood out to me. I have realized in recent weeks, maybe by the prompting of the Holy Spirit, that God wants me to be “in the moment” with whomever I’m with… to give them my undivided attention. I have noticed that when I do that…truly look and listen, the other person, including my teenage daughters, are more open, expressive and honest with me about what’s going on in their lives. I have a desire to “build the other person up” because they are a creation of God and God can have a purpose in that one brief interaction. I feel a connection that feels true not fabricated. That’s what “loving others” is really all about. Don’t get me wrong, this is something I need to remind myself about several times a day because I tend to run around at 100mph with million things to do. Sounds like your book would be a helpful resource for me! Thanks for your encouragement today.

  326. Thank you for the reminder, to focus on what is truly important in life.

  327. Although I believe the Lord has been trying to teach me for years, I’ve only recently allowed myself to accept the fact that I will not have a perfect holiday with my extended family. My heart’s desire is that during the times we spend together it will be like the Walton’s full of encouragement and joy, but it most likely will be like an episode of Roseanne. I have to love people where they are and not want I want them to be.

  328. I too struggle with perfection. I have had to let go of unrealistic expectations from my family. For years, I tried to make sure all of the Christmas traditions I wanted us to have were done in a few short weeks. I wanted them to enjoy them as much as I did. As our children got older and became busier, I had to let go of some of my traditions. Now that they are grown, I let them decide what they want to do. Christmas has become a time where we relax and enjoy just being together, remembering the true meaning of this most wonderful time of the year, JESUS!

  329. Beautiful devotion this morning. I may not try to be perfect at the holidays but there are other occasions that I strive for perfection. That has lessened in the last several years because of the death of my parents. I was blessed to have unconditional love from them so I always wanted to please them. I have learned the value of the people that are here and now. They’re not looking for perfection, most would prefer you spend time with them, to listen to them, to love them, to care about them. I have learned that I don’t have to have the perfect house that is dust free or dirt free, actually I don’t think that that is something anyone could have, lol. Trusting that I will remember what the glorious season of Christmas is all about. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ

  330. Thank you for this, I needed a good reminder. December is especially crazy here as my husbands birthday is the 11th and my daughters is the 20th.

  331. Love this blog!!! Recovering perfectionist!!

  332. I have 3 boys who mock me when I’ve tried to make a tradition, which has now become a traditional joke. Lol. Thanks for making me feel better about my not so perfect Christmas’ with the 4 males in my house. I too usually end up decorating the tree by myself:)

  333. Thank-you for today’s blog. It is so true! I have learned over the years to go with the flow on somethings. I have 4 older children, one who wants nothing to do with my husband and I. When the other three come home from college, I rejoice in having them home. It can be heart breaking to not have everyone there, but I am learning to be thankful for what I have. Some traditions I have let go of, others continue on. Even when things do not go as planned we have learned to laugh. Last year, we decided to melt green chips for peppermint bark. We named it
    “Christmas barf” 🙂

  334. OUCH!! ? God’s timing is perfect & me just reading your blog for the first time, is no coincidence. Thank you for sharing your humor, heart & insight into perfectionism. You put into words what I didn’t even realize I have been struggling with lately. It’s so awesome how God used you & your blog to tell me that I’m not alone in this but reminded me of how HIS STORY (because of Jesus) will always have a perfect heavenly “happily ever after” one day but also His story for us on earth while on our journey towards heaven is filled with “perfect imperfections” pointing us to always trust in Him. I can’t wait to read more from you, Carol, I hope if your arm has a scar, instead of thinking of the pain, you always remember how God gave you a very funny story to share with us imperfect followers! Lol. ? God bless you girl! ?

  335. Thank you for sharing with us and reminding us to slow down and enjoy this wonderful season.

  336. I struggle with wanting things perfect every day of my life…much to my family’s dismay. Perfect doesn’t equal happy, and I am VERY slowly learning that! Thanks for your encouragement!

  337. This story is hilarious!!! Thank you for the visual and making me laugh, Amy!!! I know exactly what you mean. We put tremendous stress on ourselves during the Holidays and totally miss the love and affection of the season. One memory I’ve always had is my Mom was never happy with the gift she got. Even last Christmas the gift I got her she sent back to be explaining why she couldn’t use it. Thankfully I was able to just laugh it off and move on. Truthfully, this has made me the opposite. Very good at receiving gifts!!! You could get me anything and I will show appreciation due to watching her blatant honesty crush the gift giver. (Mainly my Dad and they didn’t make it). Great blog, thank you!!! Thanks for the recipes too!

  338. Charlotte Lounsbery says:

    I , too, struggle daily with letting go of perfect. Most of the time it comes down to knowing who needs to be in control, and it’s not me…but my loving Savior, Jesus Christ.

  339. Loved this blog! I think many of us can relate and probably have a story of our own. Thank you for reminding us what is most important.

  340. Wow, I can certainly relate. All weekend I have pouring over my “perfect” Thanksgiving meal lists and home plans while my family visits. I feel the crazy stress already. Thanks you for this devotion, I want to honor God in all I do.

  341. Extending grace to myself is harder than extending it to others. My perfectionist expectations create enormous anxiety when I try to create the “perfect” childhood for my kids… The holidays are complicated a hundredfold. Thank you for this blog. 🙂

  342. God is really speaking to my heart through all the devotional writers at Proverbs 31. It’s like you’ve watched a movie of my life and are writing to me on ways to improve myself. I am definitely a perfectionist, even though I know it’s unattainable. I have this false sense of the way things are and I need to fix that. I could use all the help I can get in that front. Thank you for the reminder to rest in Him, the true author and perfector of my faith!

  343. thank YOU! freedom in Christ and freedom in Christmas. makes my shoulders relax and a big sigh some out of my deepest parts.

  344. The older I get the more simple that version of perfection gets. I think time and circumstance teach you that. For me now, I only hope to see all of my children at some point and to keep Christ at the centre of all that I do. The rest is just the glitter on top.

  345. I find that I always have these expectations of a “magazine-worthy”Christmas each hear, and then I am disappointed when it doesn’t work that way. It turns hectic, stressful, and not-so-jolly very quickly! I know I need to remember we don’t live in a magazine!!! This year I want to work on letting go of the expectations, and be present in the moment.

  346. Cheryl E. says:

    Love your post!! Great reminders!! Thank you for sharing this!!!

  347. I really don’t fret….i use to hate the holidays it always made me sad that I wouldn’t get to see my estranged son and that would send me into a depression. God has released me from that..praise God! I Do still miss him but I have God’s love and my families love!

  348. Amy
    Thank you for your beautiful and honest devotion. I’ve been on a pursuit of seeking hard after God and letting him do some major remodeling in my life and heart but after your devo today I realized there are still perfectionist ideas that I hold on to and Christmas seems to be one of those times when things are supposed to be just so. I love the line, Only when I give up my own view of perfection can God begin His perfecting work in me. Because again we are on mission here and we are to do his will and not mine even in a season that celebrates his birth. I am going to try to focus on reflecting him and not the image that I want the world to see. Thank you

  349. I love this. I really need to break up with perfect!

  350. Melissa F. says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. This is something I have struggled with my whole life. I need to get this lesson from my head to my heart. I have to remember it is a journey.

  351. Angie Bridges says:

    Hi Amy-thank you for your transparency about the perfect Christmas. I have lived the majority of my life believing that perfectionism is the key to happiness only to find out that it truly leads me to broken relationships, isolation & desperation. I question what drove me to this place asking “did God just create me this way” only to later discover that my desire to appear perfect came for my need to fulfill the “world’s” desires, not my Heavenly Father’s! So I am in constant rehab mode trying to seek a deeper relationship to the One True Joy in my life, Jesus, instead of my to do list. Thanks for your tips and encouragement! I still have a long way to go, but I look forward to reading your book and seeking God’s guidance in this journey.

  352. I’m a baker so this is my busy season. I’ve learned not to try to do too much in the way of decorating and I don’t stress too much about it any more. As long as the tree gets up I’m good with that.

    1. Carol Love says:

      Renae, I grew up on a bakery and oh how I miss the hustle and bustle of Christmas and Thanksgiving – the long lists of orders, the organizing and planning so that we can not get things lost, etc. The business closed last Easter and I was in the south last year so was not there for the last holiday season. There are so many traditions attached to the bakery that I miss. I think I finally understand that it is the busyness of the business that I miss more than the gifts and decorating. That was all last minute and hurried, usually on Christmas Eve. It has taken me what most people would consider a life time, I am 73 now, to figure that out. Maybe this year I can not be depressed from October through the new year!

  353. My husband and I have 4 kids under age 7, and God has been using them over the last few years to chip away at my perfectionist tendancies. Nothing EVER turns out how it looks in my mind, so I am learning that it is my tendency to get unreasonable expectations that is the problem.

    Example. We recently visited a farm that advertised fall family activities. It was so cute! Farm animals to look at and pet, a corn maze, hayrides, playground complete with silo slide and tractor tire sandbox. And pumpkins everywhere. I love fall, so I have visions of smiling kids, hot apple cider and picture of us enjoying our day together among the pumpkins, corn and scarecrows. The reality? You can’t really get any cute pictures in a corn maze when you are carrying your baby on a narrow path through tall corn stalks. All you can see is your husband’s back while he tries not to lose sight of the three kids in from of him, who are all fighting over who is going to be first on the path and which direction we should go. Then the 5 and 2 year old start hitting and yelling at eachother. That is our “Fall family fun!” What’s a mom to do?

    We tried our best to address the kids heart issues and point them to Jesus. We redirected our focus to what we were there to do, which was have fun. And Mom gave up on the idea of a cute family photo in the pumpkin patch and settled for snapshots of the three kids in the corn, one of them scowling from behind some stalks because he wasn’t the first one at the picture sight. This is life, and Jesus knew we’d have these days. At least I got pictures of all three kids next to the “How tall this fall” height chart! That’ll look cute on next year’s calendar….IF I have time to make and order them (I didn’t last year). But if I dont, we’ll buy a non personalized calendar. And that’ll be okay too.

  354. My youngest just turned 18 in May. How well I remember the days of trying for the perfect Christmas, year after year. I have many pictures as sweet reminders of us baking cookies, trimming the tree, and snuggling to watch Christmas movies. What I don’t have pictures of are the moments when I turned into a frustrated banshee, and this child or that one in tears over it. I have learned to let many of my expectations go, but I still find myself overwhelmed and exhausted by Christmas. I lost my mother two and a half weeks ago and I… Christmas’s #1 fan… am actually feeling a bit of fear at the approaching holidays. I’m already exhausted and just don’t see how I can put the effort in to make it the “Best Christmas Possible” in even the most simplest ways. Thanks for sharing your story and your advice. Also, thanks for the simple recipe you included. It may be just what I need for Holiday gatherings. It’s what I’m looking for right now….simple… Thanks again.

  355. This is so timely! Just yesterday I was in a panic because we have family staying with us for Thanksgiving. I kept thinking “how wilI I keep the house perfect for Thanksgiving day with so many people (kids) here leaving stuff everywhere?” I need to remember is about the relationships, time spent…. not about the house. I need to break up with perfect…big time!

  356. Yes, yes, yes. We certainly need to express ourselves in all that we do. God made each of us so uniquely and anything imitation just doesn’t fill His plan for us. Yesterday was a whirlwiind of people. Some I see regularly at church. Months, even years have passed since I have enjoyed some others’ company. How wonderful to be with those who are comfortable with who they are. This morning I was reminded of the deceased mother of one of my daughter’s friends. Although I didn’t spend much time with her, I knew her as a “heart sister.” She was a quiet lady, but loud in her love. I thank God for women who are full of heart. Wonderful post. Merry Christmas.

  357. I am a struggling perfectionist! I don’t want to miss the joy of living because of the need to be perfect! Thanks for your words of advice and encouragement!

  358. I may, or may not have repositioned ornaments on the tree, every single Christmas, when my children weren’t looking, that my children had so joyfully and excitedly placed after they carefully selected the “perfect” limb. I also keep most of my childhood ornaments packed away while only the couple that fit my chosen theme of my Christmas tree, get hung each year. This is just the teeny tiny tip of the iceberg. even though I see what I’m doing, I can’t seem to settle my ind with not doing things like this. I do not want to pass my struggle with perfectionism on to my children, but I already see my 9 year old son struggling with perfectionism in his on life. Even when it comes to his life, I have a hard time seeing how to encourage and gently push him to do his best and do everything as if he is doing it for Christ, without stamping the idea that he needs to strive for perfection. God has been working on this idea of “perfection” in my heart for a couple years now. I’m so thankful to see that I’m not alone in this. I am super excited for this blog series!! Thank you for being open with your struggle and sharing! Can’t wait to see what God reveals through all of this!

  359. Such a timely article. Great reminders and looking forward to the rest of the series.

  360. I loved your Christmas blog today! Making memories is so important for a family to grow together. Even though it was an embarrassing memory for you, it is a cherished memory for your family and a teachable memory. Our lives are not “hallmark” stories ~ but they are the real deal, imperfections and all.

  361. I have been trying to break up with this nasty companion for years!

  362. Angela Sewell says:

    well this is the most fitting subject matter for me! My sister and I run an Angel Tree for our church and have done so since 2004. At the same time my sister and i both run the local elementary school giving tree.We are total opposites. She is relaxed and laid back and I am a total perfectionist all the way! Everyone tells us to stop doing it, what a terrible time to do it, were to busy anyways. We have 6 birthdays in December as well in our immediate family. Five of those being between December 20th and December 29th. But I can’t let it go because in my heart even though it is stressful I love it!!! I love to give to others and to help people and this is my niche so to speak! So I decorate my house usually alone in November to have time for the other stuff all December. This will help remind me it doesn’t have to be perfect all the time! And I need that reminder often! Thanks!

  363. Michelle LeSueur says:

    It is comforting to know I am not the only one who struggles with this issue of perfectionism, especially evident during the holidays. I hope to learn much and seek friendships far and wide for support through the upcoming season as well as everyday struggles.

  364. I need to break up with perfect—especially at the holidays!!!

  365. I tend to put a lot of high expectations on myself. And of course when I fail to meet those expectations feelings of worthlessness overwhelm me. God reminds me that no one is perfect but Him. And instead of being prideful, I must humble myself before Him and allow His glorious perfection shine through my imperfection.

  366. I was always striving for the “perfect” Christmas. And at the end I always felt there was an emptiness. Rather than trying to be perfect, I am trying to live in and enjoy the moment. I just became a grandmother this year and pray that I can be present in the moment (Mary) rather than making sure everything looks like it came out of a magazine or Pinterest (Martha) !!

  367. Loved your honesty! Breaking up with perfect is very hard. I find myself pushing my agenda and list of things to do on others to get everything done. Lord, help me to slow down and enjoy relationships with my family.

  368. Oh, how my heart needed this! I have triplets and I’ve always tried to keep everything “perfect” for fear that things would quickly get out of control and chaotic. But now that they are 8, am I expecting too much from me and them? I will be praying about it! Thank for you sharing!

  369. One of my adult daughters and I just discussed Christmas plans this past weekend. Thanks for the timely devotional:-).

  370. Shari Lake says:

    As the only girl in my household, decorating the Christmas tree has rarely happened the way I have it pictured in my mind. It’s just not high on my husbands’, and therefore my boys’ priority list. Letting go of this “perfect picture” as I’m decorating the tree all by myself has been challenging over the years. Nice to hear someone say it’s okay to let it go.

  371. Oh how I need to break up with perfect! It’s not about what’s on the outside making sure what looks good. Our life should be based on what’s on the inside, our relationship with Christ, and how we invest in the things that last…the souls of others and the word of God. I would be blessed to read how to break up with perfect and live a life that honors the Lord and builds relationships with others. Thank you!

  372. It’s interesting to see this comment now, early as it is, as I’ve already started thinking about gifts, finding the ‘perfect’ gift and envisioning the ‘perfect’ reaction I would get when said gift was opened. In all areas of my life I’m trying to let go of the urge to be perfect in my book and to embrace life as it comes, and to live more in the moment and have a joy filled heart.

  373. What a wonderful blog! I too struggle with wanting Perfection during the holidays, although I never seem to achieve it. Most everyone in my family has passed and my only child has moved so far away that there are days I just say what’s the point. Christmas was my favorite holiday, but the past few years have been a struggle because I want the Christmas of old. But, then something happens and gently reminds me, it’s all about Him, He is the only Pefection needed and He is the true Christmas of old.

  374. Happy to see this after waking up in the middle of the night thinking, “its almost Christmas, how am I going to get everything done?” I have learned over the years that some of our best memories come from the less than perfect holidays, vacations celebrations, etc. Now, if I can only remember that over the next 10 weeks! Trying to focus more on warmth and hospitality than perfection. Easier said than done. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness,” what a powerful reminder!

  375. In an effort to be perfect, I have imitated and emulated the world’s standards of perfection especially when it comes to the holidays. In doing this, I have lost who I am and now struggle with low self esteem and self worth. In my head, I know that I am uniquely and wonderfully made by the Creator, but I need to believe that in my heart. I look forward to discovering who I am in Christ and actually believing that truth.

  376. This is so familiar. Although, we have tried to stay with traditions and setting up the tree has for the most part been amicable and pleasant. It has become a challenge as each of my 8 children has grown to spread their wings and take on traditions of their own. Christmas is a beautiful time of year to remember all that Christ has done for us. So, I take a deep breath and try to remember that as the challenges arise.

  377. My daughter LOVES Christmas…and I hate to admit it but I hate it. Year after year all I’ve wanted was the perfect Christmas and since the children have gotten older it has gotten harder and harder to find. I just can’t seem to “do” this holiday correctly, and instead of Mrs. Claus I turn into Mrs. Grinch because of it.
    Oh, how I’d love for this year to be different….for this to be the year when Christmas became a joy once again.

  378. thank you. deep breathe.

  379. This is so timely as I am already in Christmas mode and am a perfectionist at heart.

  380. Loved your honesty…..i can so relate! Looking forward to reading more.

  381. ThANKYou for your vulnerability and honesty. Your story is like the one I find myself in more times that I want to remember. God has just been grabbing hold of my heart in so many ways and this is just another area I long to surrender to our amazing God who is so full grace and love. Thankypu for this reminder I will hold onto it this season coming up 🙂

  382. The older I get the more purposeful an less perfectionist oriented I am about the holidays. A prayerful heart changes everything!

  383. Laurel Wycoff says:

    Perfect?! Yeah, NOT! I often need to be reminded that I am not perfect, nor can I make anything perfect. Thank you for this timely message! This year will definitely be a time to not make everything perfect as my mom is currently battling breast cancer and undergoing chemo. She’ll finish treatment right before Christmas.

  384. Thanks so much for your words. I appreciate the humor and the insight!

  385. I really liked this blog and I definitely identified with it in every single way. Our eggnog was hot chocolate and I didn’t end up with a rod in my arm, but I did end up in tears behind my locked bedroom door which I remember. (Sigh)

    I really appreciate what you said in your blog about “For each opportunity, ask yourself what should NOT go on your calendar.” and “Have a discussion with friends and family about what is important to each person, and then let the rest go.”

    My goal is to definitely start praying now and implementing the two suggestions above.

    Thank you so much!

  386. Thank you for keeping it real and making me feel better about my less than perfect Hallmark life.

  387. It’s wonderful for the reminders to let go of perfect. This is the season to celebrate the birth of the ONLY perfect human, Jesus Christ, both man and God. Let us leave perfection to Him, and bask in His grace for our humanity and imperfections!

  388. Great post!! It made me exhale a big breath and trust that this holiday season can be more spiritual than stressful!

  389. Maryann Baker says:

    Very inspiring, I have struggled most of my life to have everything perfect. And became discouraged when I could not make it happen. I have improved,some but need to continue to work at it. The holiday season is to share our love not attitudes. Reading your Blog is so helpful. It gives me hope. Thank you for sharing your experience. And to think I thought I was alone in this feeling.
    Looking forward to reading your daily blog. Thank you!

  390. Heather Church says:

    Thank you for the reminder. I grew up in a home with decorating the tree, Perry Como records, and the whole Christmas traditions. My husband did not and often seems so annoyed when I try to make it like when I was a kid for my little boy. I pray for a healthy compromise so I can instill the true reason for the season in my son.

  391. Brittany Kurtz says:

    I could sure use this book ?

  392. Thank you. I thought it was just me who struggled so much during the holidays. Last year, I broke down in tears at my end of year meeting with my boss. I was completely exhausted after all of the hustle and bustle of balancing the holidays, the demands of work and wanting to stay home to enjoy this precious time with my two children – they are growing up so fast.

  393. Thank you Amy, for your honesty and encouragement!

  394. Kim Werdebaugh says:

    Thank you for sharing! This is such a great topic for this time of the year! I pray that Jesus is so infused in me and my plans that “I ” don’t ruin the holidays with my own “perfect ” agenda!

  395. Christine says:

    Wow! Perfectionism is something I too have struggled with my whole life. I am truly JUST now realizing how much joy I have missed because when things didn’t play out according to the expectations and “script” I created, I would feel robbed of the PERFECT way “it was supposed to be!” I’m really working at being ok with my less than perfect life at home, work, and with my relationships.
    Looking forward to reading the daily blog!
    Thanks for sharing!

  396. I find myself letting go of perfect the older I get and the more I rely on God.

  397. Thanks for the encouragement for this Ba-Humbug holiday Mama! Maybe this year not-so-perfect is just OK!!

  398. Love our blog! Christmas is my favorite time of year, but I’m guilty of trying to fit in all of the family traditions, and am the only one, to do so. With having four sons, they’re not into having all of the traditions, so I sadly try to break them down to just a few. I still believe we need some, but not all. I’m learning to let my inner Martha go, and let God give me peace in that. Plus, I’m starting to enjoy the new traditions that daughter-in-loves bring to “God’s centered Christmas”.

  399. I really struggle with my own view of how things should be, and I push my agenda on others. Needless to say “Its NOT a good thing”. Hope to learn a lot.

  400. Thank you for sharing this. I so need to remember that perfect is not the goal of the holidays or even life! I am thankful for your honesty in sharing your struggles and your victories through the power of Christ.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts. I have realized I need to let go of my unrealistic perfect idea of how things should go this season. I’m already worrying about how to “do it right” since our family will celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas the week of Thanksgiving, including needing to send gifts to our one kids family who are spending their first holiday season in Indonesia. I’ve struggled with perfectionism my whole life, and so want to fling it out the window!

  401. Great blog. Need to remember this as my Martha self takes over.

  402. Sharon C. says:

    It’s so strange that you would bring this subject up now. My mother was a perfectionist when I was growing up. Nothing could make her happy. Not anything my dad bought or what we cooked. I just got tired of a loveless Christmas that I’ve stayed home the last few years. My two kids are grown and I live 2,000 miles from my family. My dad passed away Jan. 9th this year. As much as I dread going I know I should make the effort for my sister. She lives 2 houses down from my mom and has to put up with her moods. I got a plane ticket to go to CA for Thanksgiving, maybe Christmas and if things get better try for New Years. My mom will be 92 in March. I would love your prayers that she will be happy and not critical of whatever we do for her. It just puts a wrench in the Fun. Dad and her always snapped at each other and she is missing that. We grew up in that kind of environment and we don’t like it. Thanks.

    1. Sharon C. says:

      I wanted to update you about my plans to go to CA for Thanksgiving, Christmas and if everything goes OK New Years. I’ve had a lot of medical problems due to a surgery gone wrong. Because of my medical problems I couldn’t attend my dad’s funeral in Jan. My mom is hard of hearing so I can’t talk to her on the phone. As I thought about going to CA during the Holidays I did think about mom and I building a love relationship together. I know that was a false hope. I do want to go to make this a Christmas like we’ve never had before. A Christmas filled with Christ love. I realize I was putting my high expectations on this trip. I’m now putting it in God’s hands and take his lead. I talked to my sister last night and she said mom is excited about me coming. When I told my daughter I was going and how long I planned on staying she said to pack my patience and forget the past stuff. That’s exactly what I plan on doing. I know it will take the Holy Spirit in me. Thank you Lord that you’ve put this desire in my heart. Praise your Holy Name. Thank you guys for your prayers. My mom will be 92 in March. This will be a Christmas she will never forget. I’m getting so excited too. We’re planning on making this an old fashion Christmas. More to follow later. Sharon

    2. I am so needing the encouragement! Thanks!