"Understanding the difference between healthy striving and perfectionism is critical to laying down the shield and picking up your life."
- Brené Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

This time of year, there's one word that seems to come up in every conversation I have with other parents: stress. Yes, there is a lot going on right now: shopping to do, parties to host, travel to arrange, cards to mail, cookies to bake, the list goes on and on.

Through it all, there's also a tiny, sinister voice that seems to whisper, "Oh, by the way, it all has to be perfect."

Many of us are feeling the pressure not only to get everything done, but to get it all done perfectly — especially if we spend a lot of time on Pinterest. We scan through images of perfectly iced gingerbread houses, perfectly decorated living rooms, perfectly wrapped gifts, perfectly set tables for a perfectly cooked holiday feast, and it all implies "This is your goal!"

(Never mind how many hours of preparation, trial-and-error test runs, professional input, and maybe even a bit of Photoshopping went into those images!)

Can we all stop, take a breath, and give ourselves a break?

I invite you to think back to some of your most cherished memories of this season. I'd be willing to bet that not everything was perfect. Maybe it was the year dinner was ruined and you ended up enjoying a truly remarkable restaurant meal (remember the final scene in A Christmas Story?). Maybe it was the year money was tight and you had to improvise by giving hand-made gifts from the heart. Or maybe it was the year the weather sabotaged your travel plans and you had a blast playing games in your jammies at home.

Perfect? No. Memorable and beautiful? Absolutely.

When we welcome new parents to Prelude, many of them tell me "Oh, I can't sing — I have a terrible voice!" We gently encourage them, and before we know it, they're belting out "The Hello Song" with the same enthusiasm as their toddlers! Once they let go of that nagging voice that demands perfection, they're free to enter a beautiful new world of expression and connection.

So, this holiday season, I invite you to give your family — and yourself — the gift of imperfection. Let's all remember that years from now, we probably won't remember the perfectly curled ribbon on the gift. But we will remember how we felt when we were surrounded by love, joy, and the permission to be our imperfect selves.

What's your favorite "imperfect" holiday memory? Please tell us about them in the comments below — we'd love to hear from you!

Blessings and peace,

Please join us for our holiday Peace Concerts on December 20 at HMNS Sugar Land and on December 22 at Brookdale Senior Living! For more details, visit our Events page on Facebook. We can't wait to make holiday memories with you!