It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Right? Well, that depends. It depends on what the holidays mean to you. For some people, it means everything. For others, it can be a tough time of the year.
Retail stores, television shows, and movies inundate us with images of what the perfect holiday should look like––everyone gathered together, smiling, laughing, and opening perfectly wrapped presents. But let’s be honest, that’s NEVER how it goes. Do you know who showed us what the holidays look like? Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation. As I’m about to host a gaggle of people this year, suddenly, he doesn’t seem so crazy.
It Doesn’t Matter
Recently, while wrapping presents, I became frustrated with my lack of dexterity and mobility. Fed up, I said I’ll use gift bags. But I’ve always wrapped the presents. As hard as I tried to go the gift bag route, I couldn’t. Instead, I sweated and cursed through the process of measuring, cutting, taping, struggling to make each present look presentable rather than the unattractive crumpled heap of deformed shapes that they are. And it wasn’t until after they were all wrapped I realized: It doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter that my wrapping paper is frayed. That it’s cut at an angle. That there are wrinkles, leaving Santa’s nose disfigured. It doesn’t matter that my table isn’t Martha Stewart-worthy. It doesn’t matter that my house doesn’t look like a Hallmark movie vomited in it. What matters the most is the people I’m celebrating with. They won’t care (or even notice, for that matter) that I used seven pieces of tape, not three. They won’t care that I used plastic, not linen tablecloths. They won’t care that the tissue paper inside the box is crumpled, not perfectly creased.
So What Does Matter?
And what made me realize this was two things. One––donating to those less fortunate. This year, we donated to children in need. And when I say in need, I mean in need. In need of shampoo. In need of socks. In need of the things we consider daily purchases, not Christmas presents. When I saw what these children needed and asked for, my heart broke. No child should have to open a bottle of shampoo on Christmas morning. They shouldn’t have a bar of soap wrapped under the tree. These items should be accessible to them at all times. Christmas is the time for them to receive toys, games, things that would be considered a gift, not a necessity. And to help my children recognize just how fortunate they are, they helped contribute financially as well.
The second thing that made me realize what matters most is my son’s gift to me. Rather than buying more “stuff,” he bought us tickets to a basketball game. We went as a family. On the way there, the car was filled with conversation. During the game, we cheered together. Laughed together. Spent quality time together. And on the way home, it was filled with more conversations and lots of laughter. We connected and made memories for years to come. I realized just how lucky I am.
Sadly, many who have lost loved ones can no longer revel in these experiences and moments, and my heart goes out to them. Our time together is limited, no matter how invincible we think we are. We’re all here on borrowed time and need to make the most of it. It took failing to wrap my presents with neatly tied bows on top to learn a valuable lesson: I learned what matters most to me.
Maybe you’re one of those who strive for the “perfect holiday.” It brings you joy. Perhaps that’s what’s most important to you. And if it is kudos. I admire your dedication to the craft. I’m in awe of your ability to put it all together. I applaud your talent. But this gal right here? Well, I’m hanging up my dull scissors and tossing aside the idea of a “perfect holiday,” Instead, I’m taking the time and energy I’d use to create that illusion and spend it with my peeps because that’s what matters most to me.