Christmas in a Perfect World | New Writers Welcome December Competition

Christmas wishes in a delusional world.

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Why do we strive so hard to have a “perfect” Christmas when by the time the day is here we’re absolutely drained?

And I guess I shouldn’t lump you all into a we category when I’m really talking about me.

Every year, like biological clockwork, I’m itching to put up Christmas decor before it’s even Thanksgiving. The tiny, cozy Christmas lights twinkling around the tree, reminiscing on ornaments from years past, overcrowding surfaces in my home with Santa’s, angels, and snowmen. I just love it all.

But I’m the only one who enjoys it.

My partner doesn’t get the same thrill, and she has her reasons, but even so, she still helps me decorate. Though she’s there and she’s present, it still feels like somethings missing.

Her heart’s not in it.

I always try to brush it off and enjoy the moment for myself, but I hope one day she comes around.

Moment one of disappointment.

Then comes the baking. This is where the energy levels really start to drop. We make a point every year to whip up an insane amount of Christmas goodies. Everything from toffee, peanut butter stuffed Ritz cracker sandwiches dipped in chocolate, chocolate-covered peanut clusters, puppy chow, chocolate pretzels, cookies, and more.

I spend the time to individually wrap each cluster of sweets in their own tissue paper, wrapped with twine and tied with a festive cutout hand-written note labeling what each item is.

We divide the sweets between tins to ship off to our friends and family and then rush off to the post office the day of the Christmas cut-off with our fingers crossed and a wish sent out into the universe that they all make it on time.

By the end of it this year I was beyond exhausted. The post office was actually a decent trip compared to last year but then I get home to find the individual bags of puppy chow lined up on our wet bar that no one will receive.

I put a lot of thought into sending gifts, making them creative, festive, and full of love so that everyone can have something homemade and special for Christmas.

This was moment number two. I was disappointed, but this time, in myself for forgetting an item.

We’ve moved to a new city inside of a new state and this is our first Christmas having friends here. Things finally started to feel festive and enjoyable when we got invited to a dinner party with surprise events happening throughout the evening.

This was the boost I needed to get back into the holiday spirit.

We arrive at the party and inside and out, the house is decked with sparkly decor and lights. Like it was plucked right out of a movie.

Displayed inside were spreads of charcuterie, bottles of wine, and the scent of evergreen candles filling the air. The first surprise was a Christmas-themed escape room and our mission was to remove our names from the naughty list before Santa woke up. Again, like straight out of a movie, we solved puzzles and hunted for clues as if it were engraved in our genes to do so.

We solved the last clue with 3 minutes and 33 seconds left on the clock. We clapped and cheered and sang a carol to celebrate. This finally felt like Christmas.

Dinner back at the house was a full spread of steak, homemade bread, brussel sprouts, corn casserole, and anything else you could imagine. We sat down together, shared our thanks and gratitude and all joined in on a giant cheer clinking our glasses across the table.

The last surprise was a chance to walk off dinner at our local zoo lights. It was magical, vibrant, and the perfect way to end the evening.

But not all of our friends were invited. Queue moment number three of disappointment interrupting the delusion of a perfect Christmas due to severe fomo induced by alcohol and unnecessary confrontations.

A lesson to be learned is though alcohol can make you brave, overusing can make you an ass and ruin other people’s happy moments.

Nonetheless, we shrugged it off and moved on.

Here we are, only a few days before Christmas and we haven’t heard from family. Again, we’re in a new city, a new state and for the cherry on top, we moved here for family amidst the pandemic.

Last year's Christmas with the family was exciting, joyful, and planned a month in advance so the fact that we haven’t heard from them is a little bit of a surprise.

So we call, ask what the plans are, and get the response of grandpa wants a ham and the aunt is making brussel sprouts and mashed potatoes followed by a warm and welcoming, “we’d love it if you could make it”.

I’m sorry. We just picked up our lives to have a closer connection to this family and they’d love it if we could make it this year? What happened to the demand for spending time together last year? Did they not remember we moved here for them?

So at the onset of we’d love it if you could make it, I was completely over it. I was tired of disappointment and I was ready to take my Christmas back into my hands.

Needless to say, we’re not going. Our friends are hosting a non-traditional, pajama’s only Christmas party the night of the 25th and I couldn’t be more excited.

This year has been filled with interruptions and disappointing expectations, but so has every year in the past. The Christmas season never goes how we expect it to, so why do we invite disappointment through the door so easily?

There I go again, not we, how I expect it to. How I invite it through the door.

Why do I try so hard every year? Why do I work so hard to make it so perfect for everyone else? Why do I succumb to the pressure of society to have a picture-perfect, Hallmark holiday when I only end up exhausted at the end of it wishing that I could rewind and do it all over again without the stress and anxiety?

I’m making a point, right here, right now to commit to no expectations for next year. Letting go of my type-A controlling habits and welcoming a more type-B go with the flow perspective.

Perspective. That’s what it’s all about right?

Maybe that’s what makes a perfect Christmas.

Switching my perspective to realize that my partner lost both of her parents before she was 30 and still has a hard time connecting to the holidays since their passing.

Switching my perspective to realize that forgetting the puppy chow isn’t really a big deal.

To be a little more gentle to the feelings of a friend who felt left out.

To realize that I’m not obligated to spend Christmas with family who has been so absent.

And to finally admit to myself that movies are meant to make you feel something for a moment, not a reflection of reality.

If we can learn to switch our perspective, especially during the looming stress of the holidays, maybe we’ll have a chance to see how lucky we really are.

How full our lives already are.

I’m lucky to have a partner to love and who loves me in return, to have the privilege of food, to have friends that are worth consoling and keeping around, and to have a family even if we don’t always see eye-to-eye.

The perfect Christmas shouldn’t be the tangible things, it’s the feeling of love, gratitude, and grace and putting more of it out into the world.

I wish you a very happy holiday, however it is that you’re celebrating.

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Until next time,


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Haley Jones

Haley Jones

Mental health advocate. Dabbler of poetry. Lover of food. Traveler. Cat mom. 🏳️‍🌈 @halesjales on IG/FB

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