A Holiday Manifesto for Recovering Perfectionists

Earlier this week, I set out to make some salt dough Christmas ornaments with my two toddlers. I taped some wax paper to the dining table, added all the ingredients to our biggest mixing bowl, and handed my 3 year old a spoon to stir. It should have been simple enough, but even still, I found myself antsy and grouchy by the end of our project. Later that day, one kid picked up a not-yet-dry ornament, it broke, and I was too harsh in response, lecturing and scolding about following directions and having nice things. Whyyyyy?

Later, I was praying and reflection on my sort of irrational, unmeasured response. It’s true that messy crafts aren’t my favorite thing, but this one was relatively low on the mess and difficulty scale. Still, I think I got too focused on the outcomes. I was bound and determined that we were going to have little gingerbread ornaments by the end, and I couldn’t allow my kids to just enjoy mixing, smooshing, and making.

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Christmastime, in all its beauty and wonder, has the potential to bring with it unwanted stress and anxiety.

We find ourselves stretched thin and overcommitted, despite our best efforts to keep the holiday low-key and meaningful.

We’re so easily distracted by sparkly lights, potlucks upon potlucks, Elf on the Shelf shenanigans, mailing cards to arrive on time for Christmas, and navigating family drama. Add to that the weight of what’s happening in the world today, and distracted turns into downright overwhelmed.

In this season we long to experience the quiet calm of waiting expectantly for Jesus, our hope, but some years it seems out of reach. We are focused so much on the outcomes, that we miss the magic of the moments. What happened to “peace on earth”?

This year, we want to sing about peace and feel it, too.

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Last year, we created this Holiday Manifesto for Recovering Perfectionists, and we wanted to share it with you again this year. We hope it helps you take a deep breath and feel a little bit of peace, knowing that you and your holiday celebrations are already enough as-is. We want to grant you a little permission to focus more on process and less on outcomes. Together, we are trying to remember that Jesus is here in every, ordinary moment—not just the ones that smell of peppermint or are tinged with green and gold.

We are only a few weeks away from Christmas day, but every single day is an opportunity to adjust our direction a tiny bit and point ourselves in the direction of the manger.

Here’s to keeping first things first during what’s left of the Christmas season: family and friends, gratitude and generosity, peace and joy.


The next issue of The Drafting Desk will arrive in inboxes just in time for Christmas, on December 20. If you are not already subscribed, would you consider doing so? This month, we’re talking more about what Advent has to teach us as recovering perfectionists.