I love decorating the Christmas tree. I relive the memories associated with each ornament – remembering special moments with friends and vacations with family. I turn on Christmas music, I have a glass of wine, and I enjoy the memories.
A few years ago, my husband wanted to try doing a time-lapse photography of our Christmas tree decorating. Photography is one of his hobbies, he already had most of the gadgets, and was able to borrow the one piece of equipment he didn’t have (an interval-something). Afterwards, he’d take the hours of pictures and edit them into 2 minute video clip set to music. All it required of me was to decorate, so I agreed.
I have to admit, the Tree Trimming video turned out so well that it became a tradition.
The thing is that every year, I struggle with the Tree Trimming video drawing my attention to all that is less-than-perfect. This year we got our first artificial tree, and despite my attempts to spread out the branches (as evidenced in the first full minute), I notice at least three gaping holes. My boys love helping, and I know it’s important to share the memories with them… but they move faster than my stories do, and they don’t spread the decorations… they clump them together. So I spend much of my time re-locating their efforts (as evidenced by minutes 2-3:45). At 3:05, you’ll notice that glass of wine. At 3:18, my older son knocked it over and I spend through 3:27 cleaning the stain out of the carpet.
I don’t want to be so focused on imperfection that I fail to appreciate my blessings. I don’t want to shape my children’s memories of me by pointing out everything that is wrong. I also don’t want to create some sort of passive-aggressive dynamic where boasting my inadequacies pressures others into telling me how wonderful I am.
On the one hand, my attention to detail serves me well as an author and editor, as a problem solver, and as a doer-of-things. On the other hand, if I allow perfectionism to dominate my interactions, it will interfere with loving myself, others, and the God who created me. Perfectionism is alluring because it offers the illusion of control. But that control comes at a price–it almost certainly costs us peace and usually wreaks havoc on our relationships. Moreover, it is asserting a level of control that comes close to violating the First Commandment.
So on my path of preparation this Advent season–in this time of preparing my heart for the hope and joy of the coming of Christ–I will open myself to choosing the beauty of life and love.
This means that I will choose to embrace the cuteness of minutes 1:18-1:24, where Alex reads the meaning of the Twelve Bride’s Tree Ornaments while Max and I hang them. Or at 2:25 where I get my 8 1/2 year old to pause for a kiss long enough to capture it on the time-lapse. Or 3:37 where Max suggests “a family hug,” followed by dancing.
Rejecting perfectionism isn’t easy for me, but it’s something I must do as a matter of faith and a matter of love. It’s not that I’m not aware of these imperfections… it’s that I am invited to release them so I can experience the fullness of life.
- What do you need to let go of to prepare your heart for the hope and joy of the coming of Christ?