Less perfect, more carefree
During the holiday season, I find more and more articles with headings such as "Flawless Thanksgiving" or "Perfect Christmas" appearing in newspapers, magazines or on the Internet.
As someone who is not a perfectionist, my immediate reaction after reading such headings is, "It's not for me." I often skip reading those articles.
I would rather have a "stress-less" or "carefree" holiday than a "flawless" or "perfect" one.
I think if our goal is a "flawless" and "perfect" holiday, we can set ourselves up for more stress and some disappointments.
Yes, we can plan ahead and be creative. We can spend less, shop less, buy less, cook less, wrap less, waste less, do less and be stress-less. We can try our best to create "the most memorable" Thanksgiving or Christmas.
But to have it "flawless," "perfect" or even "stress-free" is a sure way to more stress and some disappointment.
In my opinion, our perfectionist attitude can also create a barrier for people in deepening their relationships.
I remember a few years ago I was looking at an old photo of my parents eating a meal with some relatives in their small apartment. Instead of enjoying my parents' smiling faces and looking at the wonderful food they had prepared for the relatives, my first thought was, "Look, how cluttered the place is! The cabinet in the background was full of stuff on top of each other. It is embarrassing to have guests there!"
Then it hit me. I shouldn't have had such a thought. I knew nobody at the dinner table paid any attention to the clutter in the background.
In the old days, we didn't have telephones. We often visited relatives and friends without notices in advance. A lot of things we did were spontaneous. If we felt like it, we simply walked to someone's home for a visit.
It wasn't in our conscious mind at that time that we couldn't have visitors over because we were not prepared for having visitors, or because our home looked messy and cluttered, and therefore was not presentable or embarrassing.
Only after living in the U.S. for many years and have visiing many "flawless" and "perfect" looking homes did I become aware that my home is not as "flawless" and "perfect" as others are.
I don't have my interior designed by a professional. I don't have expensive sets of furniture. I don't have fancy decorations. I don't have matching curtains. I don't have masterpiece paintings on the wall. I don't use a white table cloth. I don't use a centerpiece. I don't have a perfectly clean kitchen because I cook every day.
Even though I personally don't care about any of these things I don't have and use, and I don't care about how perfect or imperfect others' houses are, my non-perfectionist attitude and my imperfect house do create a barrier more or less for me in terms of hospitality.
I am not a big party person, but I do enjoy talking with individuals and getting to know people. I enjoy sharing some conversations with people over a simple meal.
But when I go to parties, and see so much emphasis focused on the perfect setting, the perfect food, the perfect of everything, I feel inadequate when doing the same thing.
When we focus so much on appearances, we have to spend lots of time and energy on cleaning, decorating, shopping, preparing, cooking so we can have a perfect party or a perfect holiday.
Then more and more we shy away from doing parties, because it is too much work and becomes too overwhelming.
So, people get together less often and become less connected. There are fewer quality and deep relationships.
The more perfectionism I see in others, the more distant I feel.
I know I am not the only one who feels stressed by the perfectionist attitude in our society.
A friend whom I considered a perfectionist once told me she felt more relaxed when she visited other people's homes that were less than perfect.
Perfectionism can certainly make our own lives and others' harder and more stressful.
I would rather live my life in a less perfect and less stressful way than having things flawless and perfect with more stress and anxiety attached.
Like many things in life, we just can't eat our cake and have it, too.
If we want to enjoy our holiday with less stress and craziness, then we should let loose or let go some of our perfectionism.
I wish you all a stress-less holiday season!