Thanks to Pinterest and Instagram, I (and all my friends that I've talked to) have begun to feel an urge to create the perfect-looking home, especially around the holidays. As I scroll through my feeds, I see the most beautiful holiday decor from my friends and family . . . and cue the envy. So I spend an inordinate amount of time choosing the perfect items to make my porch picture-perfect for Fall, mantle flawless for Christmas, and more, even though decorating is not something I particularly enjoy. Every holiday and every season gets the special treatment. And while it's beautiful, it's a lot of hard work. And what's more, I can confirm that my kids certainly don't care. They're more concerned with the memories made around the holidays, not the quality of decor that fills the corners.
Sure, I have countless memories of getting off the bus to find my mom getting the house ready for holidays. She loved getting my brothers and me involved. She'd drag up a large box with "Halloween" or "Christmas" scribbled across it. Inside, we saw tons of imperfect (Dare I say, tacky? I mean, it was the '80s.) decorations. During the Halloween season, for example, she hung a handmade ghost from a tree. It was made from an old pillow and white sheets with its eyes drawn on with permanent marker. We loved that ugly ghost. Inside the house, my brothers and I helped my mother hang vampires that were made from poster board. They didn't make our home look very Instagram-worthy, but it was fun. Besides, all I remember are the wonderful times we had decorating, goofing off as we strung up the creations. It didn't matter to me that it didn't look "good."
All I remember are the wonderful times we had decorating. It didn't matter to me that it didn't look "good."
For Christmas, my mom let us decorate the tree ourselves. As a result, ornaments hung only in the small corners of the tree that we could reach, clumsy paper mâché drummer boys filled the mantle, and together we haphazardly strung blue lights up outside. I lived in a home where it quite literally looked like Christmas barfed inside; stuffed Santas were shoved in every corner, windowsill, bedrail. Nothing looked perfect, yet everything was perfect for us. The Christmas spirit fulfilled us in a way fancy decorations never would, as corny as that is. My mom wanted to create a cheerful, happy home, especially during all of the holiday seasons; she didn't care about how perfect everything looked. And I never once thought, "Christmas would be so much better if only the house looked nicer."
Today, I feel an innate competition and envy within myself every time I open my phone. It's only natural, after all, to respond to a beautiful Christmas tree on Instagram by wanting that for our own homes. But I don't have it in me to set up a perfect tableaus anymore, and I've learned that in the end, it doesn't matter what my home looks like. That's not what my children will remember. Instead, they'll remember building that gingerbread house with us, wrapping presents, counting their candy after trick-or-treating, and more small moments that truly make up the holidays. So if you're like me and you don't have the energy to decorate throughout any of the holidays, don't do it.
Now that I've let go of that need, it's taken so much pressure off of me, and my kids haven't noticed a difference. Of course, if decorating is your jam, have at it! But if it's not, and you're only doing it because you're simply feeling like you don't measure up, please know that how you decorate your house for holiday has nothing to do with how successful the holiday will be. Take that time where you hate-decorate the mantle and spend it with your kids — it made a huge difference for me. Instead of sprinting to the store to get the perfect Fall mums, we hit up an apple orchard and returned home with bags of crisp fruit and delish memories of warm apple cider. Trust me, I know it's hard to not care about what you see on social media. Instagram photos can be so damn pretty, but the stress we're putting on ourselves just isn't worth it. Because all our children want over any holiday season is time spent together, anyway. Picture-perfect porches be damned.