It’s the morning of Christmas Eve 2019 and my house is remarkably quiet. I think that’s mostly because the days of small child giddy excitement are behind us. Long gone are the days of checking NORAD for Santa updates, making reindeer food, and selecting treats for Santa. I’m pretty sure as I type that my daughter is lying on her bed scrolling through Instagram and my son is playing a video game – so it could be any morning as much as it’s the morning before Christmas.
There is a part of me that misses the frenetic energy that comes from the excited anticipation of young children on Christmas Eve. But as much as I miss the sweetness of those younger days, I think there is a bigger part of me that is hopeful that the peaceful start to Christmas with my big kids is a sign of things to come as we move through the holidays. In a home where adolescent mental illness is a daily reality, peaceful is not the norm.
Many days our reality does not include the aspirational wishes of this particular season. Peace, joy, laughter, togetherness – these are all the goal, and we certainly experience them all at times, but the experience is usually fleeting and tenuous. On this morning it is tempting to be drawn into believing that because it’s Christmas the “magic” of the season can give us the gift of peace, joy, laughter and togetherness all wrapped up with a shiny bow. But what I know to be true is there is more heartbreak and let down in giving in to that temptation than there is in living in to the reality that life is not neat and pretty tied up with a bow.
I’ve learned (the hard way) to not wish for perfect. My family and our reality are complicated and broken and healing and growing – everyday including “magical” days like Christmas. That’s our truth, and I know it’s also the truth for uncountable other families near and far.
If you see some glimmer of your own family reflected in mine, my wish for you this holiday is to let go. Let go and find the space to rest, to love your people fully, and to find your own peace, joy, laughter and togetherness among the imperfection.
We know that family is real, raw, broken and beautiful all of the time. Holidays magnify that. And that’s okay. Live in the moment, laugh at the messiness, and love with all you have.
Cheers to imperfection.