There was a bit of internal and external controversy over our family Christmas photo this year.
While in so many ways it looks so perfect - we’re all smiling, taking a family trip all the way across the country to Mt. Ranier, and all 7 of us, including my adult children, are in the same place at the same time having a great time (miracle), the first things I pointed out after seeing our smiling faces when I saw this photo were —
My flabby, stretch-marked tummy showing;
Everyone not jumping at the same time;
And one of my kids not looking at the camera.
And although this is the real, unedited us, up until the minute I sent this pic to the printer, I was debating back and forth if I should replace it with the below more perfect photo.
I’ve always wanted to be one of those moms who knows in February what Christmas picture they’ll use in December; whose tree is up the day after Thanksgiving with a color coordinated theme; and who actually gets their Christmas cards sent in the mail BEFORE Christmas.
But I never was.
If I ever got ONE of those things done in a single year, it would be a miracle that likely added one more nail in the coffin of my building exhaustion that no one gave me permission to admit I was experiencing.
Now here’s the real cringey part.
There was a time when every time I received Christmas cards in the mail from people who checked the boxes above that I couldn’t, I would shame myself for not having my stuff together.
See many of my Christmases as a mom, I was trying to piece together survival.
I was tired and felt defeated because I didn’t or couldn’t get everything on everyone’s Christmas list.
And a few Christmases, I was so deep in depression, few gifts were wrapped and I barely remember the day.
So as a recovering perfectionist, my Christmas message to you this year is a bit different. This year, I want to give you the gift I wish I gave myself years ago — the gift of release.
This year I want to release you from the weight of internal and external pressure that says what you’ve done already for Christmas isn’t enough.There’s a good reason why you didn’t get it all done. Likely, “All done” was unrealistic in the first place. With your real life, your real circumstances, and your real finances, what you’ve done is what you were able to do and IT IS GOOD ENOUGH.
Second, I want to release you from the job of happiness giver. It is not your job to make everyone happy at Christmas. It’s ok if someone isn’t satisfied with your gift because again their happiness is their responsibility not yours. Please release yourself from the weight of that.
Third, I release you from “the have to” “I’m supposed to,” and “if I don’t do it, no one will,” grinch mindset that robs the joy you deserve to experience this Christmas. Here’s the thing:
If you don’t make that dish everyone is expecting because you’re tired, I want you to know you don’t have to. The truth is no one knows how tired you are except for you and guess what? No one can do anything about it except for you. Take the nap. It’s the better gift.
If you don’t look cheery the way everyone expects you to, you don’t have to. You can grieve, be sad, and be grateful all at the same time. You DON’T need to fix your face to make everyone else feel comfortable.
Finally, you do not have to spend time with toxic family members or friends today or any other day no matter who expects you to. Jesus wants you to experience peace today, not abuse. Stay home and have yourself an emotionally safe Christmas because your sanity and well-being are a gift you deserve to give yourself.
I won’t lie to you. Sometimes the guilty monster tries to whisper in my ear all the ways I’m not measuring up and all the details I’ve screwed up too, And just like I’m admonishing you, I whisper in a louder voice to myself: I am enough. It’s not my responsibility to make everyone happy. And just because everyone is expecting me to do something, I don’t have to.
It is my prayer on this Christmas Day that you’ll give yourself the same gift.
Najah Drakes is a Work-Life Balance Strategist, Personal Development Coach, and Self Care Expert at Spark Her Blaze. As a burnout survivor, she helps ambitious professionals achieve success beyond their resumes by taking back control of their calendar, time, and peace. She empowers leaders to purposefully achieve success in their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health while balancing their professional success. After over 20 years of working with multi-million dollar companies, Najah now uses her strategic and data analysis skills to help professionals harness the data of their lives to empower them to prioritize their well-being; systemize work, home, and life; and maximize peace, freedom, and time. She is a YouVersion (The Bible App) Partner and her Devotional, “It’s Time: 7 Time Management Strategies to Take Back Your Calendar, Reduce Overwhelm, and Flourish on Purpose has been completed by thousands.
Najah has been married for 23 years. She and her husband are the proud parents of 5 amazing sons. She can be reached at email@example.com.
LinkedIn: Najah (Ade) Drakes