I didn’t send out a Christmas letter with our Christmas cards this year. I have this (probably irrational) fear that if I don’t just hurry up and get them done and out, I will forget or run out of time and that will be the end of it.
(Actually, come to think of it, that fear probably isn’t that irrational after all.)
But the other fear I have is that if I don’t send out my cards, nobody will send me cards the next year. Christmas cards are one of my favorite things about Christmas – we display them proudly in our kitchen for as long as I can get my husband to let me. So I worry that if I miss a year, that’s it! I’m scratched off somebody else’s mailing list.
That would make for a very boring kitchen wall! (It’s normally pretty bare.)
So I sent them out again without explanation.
However, I feel there is a need to explain.
I had a conversation with a family member over Thanksgiving about the false sense of perfection and happiness that are sometimes spread (probably mostly unknowingly) through Facebook and, yes, Christmas cards. It’s that whole idea of “Look at how AWESOME we are! Our kids are perfect! We took more awesome vacations than you did! And we are beautiful, rich, and never fight EVER!”
At first I thought, maybe this family member has the wrong Facebook friends. I’m pretty sure everyone is pretty much hovering around average in most things, most people aren’t particularly attractive – although family and friends are always beautiful in the eyes of those who love them – and if you have kids, it doesn’t matter where you went on vacation, it was still stressful, crazy, and I’m just going to assume your kids weren’t perfect and spent a good amount of time fighting with each other.
(I usually come home from vacation needing another vacation. On a deserted island. All by myself.)
(Well, with a book.)
And then I started to feel guilt because I had been thinking to myself, “FINALLY! I have the PERFECT Christmas card! We look perfect!!” And I realized that if anyone else saw my card and thought that too, maybe it would just be adding a little less joy and a little more glum to their holiday. So here is the explanation of our “perfect” Christmas card.
No, that is not our house in the background. We don’t live in a gorgeous, columned uber-mansion with perfect landscaping that just happens to match whatever we are wearing in order to accommodate our family photos. That beautiful building isn’t even a house at all. Or in the same city we live in.
Speaking of the “clothes we wear,” everything the kids were wearing were hand-me-downs. Most of them had been handed down at least 3 times already. All the kids’ jeans had holes in the knees. They were wearing beat up, ratty (and multi-colored) tennis shoes. I just asked the photographer to take pictures from the waist up as best she could.
Speaking of the photographer, I know it may look like it because she is fabulous, but I didn’t spend a ton of money of family photos. I don’t have a ton of money to spend on those, no matter how much I want to. And my good friend knows this and gifted me a photoshoot for my birthday. Which means October family photos become December Christmas cards.
And speaking of “from the waist up,” my daughter doesn’t have beautiful golden locks. It’s only taken me 2 years to figure out how to curl her hair and make the curls actually stay in. My oldest son doesn’t actually like to smile. The photographer caught such a beautiful shot of him and we were honestly shocked! But she also said she had to take A LOT of photos. My youngest child loves to smile, but he doesn’t like to hold still.
So we bribed him with fruit snacks.
And it still didn’t work.
That’s ok. It was still better than last year. In last year’s photo, instead of seeing his cheery little cherub face, all you could see was the bottom end of a bottle of milk. Oh well. More true to life, right?
But there actually wasn’t a lot of fighting or fit throwing. Although there was a lot of running away.
So… you know. We aren’t perfect.
But we have perfect moments.
And although I’m not a perfect mother, I love my children perfectly. And the same can be said for my husband. When I hear him pray for our children, it is deep and heartfelt and sincere.
And my kids aren’t perfect in the sense that they are robots who obey without question and do everything right all the time. But they are perfect children in the sense that they are learning, they make mistakes, they are figuring what works and what doesn’t work, they are trying, and they are getting a little better every day.
Ok, maybes it’s more like a two steps forward, one step back kind of thing.
Or like an inch forward…
But the point is, however slowly, I think we are moving in the right direction. And however many times we fall down, so far we have been able to get back up, say “I’m sorry,” and try again.
That is all that God asks of us. That we seek Him, seek truth, seek to be like him, and just keep getting up when we fall short and try again.
You are probably doing pretty good, too. In fact, you are probably doing a lot better than you may think you are. Whatever the hang ups, imperfections, faults and flaws, you are a perfect child of God and He loves you!
And if you don’t believe me, listen to THIS guy. He’ll tell you how it is.
Merry Christmas, from the Honest Homeschool. Honest in our imperfections, honest in our failures, honest in our down days. But honestly doing our best, loving each day together, and perfect in our love as a family.
And I still think the Christmas card turned out AWESOME!