Sometimes I go overboard. Sometimes I have the most amazing idea and the best plan EVER, and I throw myself into the planning and the details and the making it perfect. As you may know, Christmas is the perfect opportunity for this kind of foolishness.
I say “foolishness,” not because my ideas and plans aren’t great. (Because, you know, they ARE.) But this foolish tendency of mine always leads to stress and expectations and disappointment.
Going overboard is never more tempting than Christmastime. I love figuring out exactly what kind of gift will delight each person the most. Honestly, I feel like a failure if at least one person doesn’t consider my gift the best one of the season.
Like I said – overboard. And foolish.
As I was making my Christmas list a few days ago, preparing for the shopping extravaganza that will happen as soon as we a) find a babysitter and b) find extra money after paying the bills, I remembered something.
I remembered a Christmas several years ago – half my lifetime ago, actually – when my friends and I decided to make each other presents. We were in high school, but most of us were too busy with sports and drama and music to put in many hours at a part-time job. Still, we wanted to give each other something special.
We agreed on handmade gifts for everyone.
A decade and a half later, I don’t remember what everyone gave me. I do still have a hand-painted flower pot and small photo album with my nickname puff-painted on it. My best friend told me she still has the glass bottle of potpourri that I gave her, but the hot chocolate mix another friend made for us is long gone.
What I remember most is how proud of our gifts we were, how pleased we were to see the creative fruits of each others’ labors, and how much fun we had putting the whole thing together. I’m pretty sure the giggles and high-pitched screams of “Cute!!” reached an all-time high that night we exchanged our gifts.
Knowing myself, I imagine I probably stressed out about making those bottles of potpourri. (I have a vague recollection of insisting that the ribbon around the lid had to perfectly match the dried roses!) But thankfully, those memories have faded.
What remains clear as the day it happened, though, is the love and care that went into each person’s creations. That photo album had MY name on it! The painted pot did, too! Each gift was special, and as they have traveled with me over the years – either physically or in my memory – they’ve been sweet reminders of those friendships.
I’m not 16 anymore, and life isn’t quite as simple as it was back then. And it’s quite possible that some of the people on my list would be less than ecstatic to receive a small bottle of potpourri for Christmas.
But while it’s impossible to go back to that time (And, really, who would want to? Remember acne? And school dances?), it’s totally doable to regain that holiday innocence and enjoy it like a child. This year, instead of elaborate plans and amazing ideas, I’m focusing on a few more handmade gifts, less-than-perfect photos, relaxed and casual dinners, and moments we can actually enjoy and remember for another 16 years.
After all, I think going overboard just might be over-rated.