Everyone Leaves Some Things Undone

No matter how perfect the magazine photos, or how classic the stories, or how beautiful the decor, no one has it all together and does *everything*. We need not feel intimidated by the actions or homes of others, particularly during this Christmas season.

If you go to a Christmas party and the house is decorated perfectly, perhaps they're not taking time to make homemade Christmas goodies. Or maybe she has grown children. Maybe their master bedroom is a mess. Maybe she has a natural flair for that and it doesn't take near the effort it would for you or I. It could be that their family is using disposable everything-- dishes, napkins, diapers, and more-- during this season.

What I'm saying is this: don't heap on guilt because you don't have whatever someone else has or aren't doing what someone else does. We don't always see the whole picture.

If their kids are geting all the most expensive and "must-have" things for Christmas, it could be that they scrimped and saved all year. Or maybe they got a windfall bonus and decided to have a big Christmas this year. It could be that their grandparents are wealthy and give extravagantly (sometimes even despite the wishes of the parents). Or perhaps they're in mounds in debt.

Whatever the case, and whatever the reasons for their situation, someone else's life doesn't have to speak judgment into your life and your actions/inaction.

Everyone leaves some things undone. For our family, some of our "must-do"s are: time together as a couple, homeschooling, nursing, having friends over, and spiritual input into the hearts and lives of our children. And right now, I'm also making baby food and preparing for a lengthy visit from my parents in just 10 days (YAY!). So here are some of the things we're leaving "undone" this year:
  • Cloth diaper usage has been put on "pause". About six weeks ago, the laundry was mounting up, the holidays were approaching, and we began having more gatherings in our home... so we've been using disposables for a while.
  • We still haven't decorated for Christmas. We might do some small things, but I'm not going to do much this year.
  • Our master bedroom is a mess. I had this on my list of things to tackle this autumn, but I just haven't gotten around to it. A random assortment of duffle bags, nursing bras/pads, 0-6 months baby clothes, and a not-yet-switched-to-Winter clothing wardrobe has left it a mess. And we're OK with that. We're both messies anyhow, so for us, that's not a big deal.
And there's probably more I'm not thinking of right now. But, my point is this: everyone leaves some things undone. Extend grace to yourself and don't feel bad if you don't have it all together... cause no one else does either.

36 comments:

watchthesky said...

Thanks for the reminder. :)

Candice said...

Thanks for the reminder!

Anonymous said...

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: the holiday season is the best time of year to be Jewish. We celebrate Chanukah, but it is a minor holiday and doesn't dominate a month or two of the year.

Every year I see people feeling so much pressure to buy things and make things and decorate and create the perfect magical Christmas atmosphere, but they don't have time to feel peaceful. At the moms' groups people are always so stressed out.

It's easy for me to explain to my kids that many people celebrate Christmas, while we celebrate Chanukah. I think it would be more difficult to try to teach children the true meaning of Christmas when your holiday is being used as a vehicle to push consumer spending, complete with jolly Santa and dancing reindeer.

Laurie B

Anonymous said...

Posting a separate comment in case the other one gets filtered: a friend is having a "clothing swap" party on December 20 at her house. Women will come with clothes they don't wear, or that don't fit anymore, and other women will take them home if they like.

The extra clothes will go to charity after the party.

It's incentive to help us all finish cleaning out our closets and start the new year with clothes we will use.

Laurie B

Anonymous said...

Thank you!

My DH and I have no children but have had to open up our shop for six days a week instead of five. Needless to say our decorating/household chores have taken a big nose dive.

I was a little down last night as I was taking the dog out and noticing everyone elses great decorations and then my dark doorstep.

Well at least all the Christmas cards are sent and most of the shopping is done.

-Jen K.

The Arab Musicians said...

What a good, good thing to keep in mind throughout the year! I am very guilty of assuming that everyone else has it together and is somehow managing to do it all. It's a miserable, guilt-ridden way to live, but an easy trap to fall into. Grace is the key--for ourselves and for others. Thanks for the timely reminder.
~Beth

homeskoolmommy said...

What a great post! BTW: Our master bedroom is currently a huge mess too. It's the only way I've been able to keep the rest of the house peaceful and nice. Oh well. I'll get to it one of these days.

Anna said...

Thanks for the reminder. I have been slowly learning this, but have to remind myself often.

A JoyFilled Life said...

This is a great reminder, not just at Christmas, but all the year through. I have a wonderful sister in law who's home & hospitality looks so perfect that sometimes I hesitate to have extended family gatherings here...and must have reminders to extend myself grace to rest in knowing each person has her own strengths!

Brenda said...

Or MAYBE her master bedroom is a mess, she isn't making homemade things, the house isn't decorated perfectly, and well...

it's possible. I'm just sayin'. :)

Jess said...

:) Yes, Brenda. That would be me, huh?

Too much pressure...

Honestly, living out of the US has been REALLY a blessing for me on this score. It's not so big, not so commercial... and we're just able to focus in on the Scriptural foundation, the meaning of the holiday, and enjoying a little extra time together as a family.

Kris said...

This is our first Christmas back in the US, and I'm feeling the stress! It really IS a blessing not living amidst the chaos!

My bedroom....we'll not go there. It's a place to sleep, nuff said. And we've been easing up on cloth diaper usage too, except it's such a blessing to have diapers ready to go when funds get tight! Dinners have been our big "ease-up", because I'm used to making big meals, trying new things, and generally just being an amateur gourmet. Now, well, not so much. Now is NOT the time to attempt Martha Stewart's finery. Simplicity is wonderful!

Thanks for the reminder! (Oh, and we have a naked Christmas tree up this year, we've just not had the opportunity to put anything on it!)

Polly said...

I agree! One thing I try to do during Advent with varying degrees of success is to search for what is Truly Important. But in the course of that in general I:

*do not cloth diaper (isn't that funny? so much travel, etc--I just let it slide for a while)
*don't send out Christmas cards, though I do a pretty big Year in Review blanket email with a photo of our son ;)
*don't do much baking--there's enough sweet stuff circulating this time of year, so I just make a few things we like
*don't attend every party or function--just the ones that mean the most to us (one year I had 5 parties a week for about 3 weeks--after that i pulled the plug)
*decorate very simply (tree, candles in windows, wrapped gifts, a few other items)--no Clark Griswold house for us!! ;)

gives more time for the things I love--wrapping gifts prettily, drinking hot chocolate with my husband, listening to Christmas music, church services, etc.

A good post, a great reminder! Do what matters, let the rest go! :)

Anonymous said...

Right ON! Way to go for speaking up on this!

Amy

Brinley's Momma said...

Thanks Jess! Again, a much needed post that occured at *just* the right time! Here I am, feeling a little overwhelmed and low as I struggle to finish Christmas cards, finish decorating our home, keeping up with the laundry so that I can start packing for our trip to Texas that will take place next week, finish gift shopping, wrap gifts, etc., etc. As much as our little family tries to focus on the importance of the season and not the commercialism (we don't do Santa), somehow I feel like things still got a little blown out of porportion. I think that has to do with wanting to make Brinley's first Christmas 'picture perfect', but I realize that she isn't going to remember it so what am I killing myself for? Since this is my first Christmas with a little one, maybe I will be better prepared next Christmas...or maybe it will be worse...but I'll try to think optimistically and think that it will be better. :-)

Incase I don't chime in again before Christmas, many blessings to you and yours, and I hope you have a wonderful time in Texas. Maybe your kids will get to see snow--I think the Dallas area got a few flurries last night...

Liz said...

THANK YOU for this post! Also, your post about narrowing down your blog's purpose (at least that's what I took away from it) was super! It inspired me!

Ashley said...

ahhhh. i feel all better now. seriously!!

we simply have not had time to decorate for christmas, and i have felt so guilty about it! no more!! thanks for the reminder!

Mrs. "M" said...

I proposed to my family the idea of celebrating Christmas in Feb. but no one went for it :O).
I have family coming in a week too. Just returned from the hospital with a sick infant (RSV) and just recovered from the c-section. Christmas decorations...ummm what are those? We did a few things but left out much of our normal stuff. My husband came home with a 10 foot tree (no exaggeration) to make up for it all LOL!.
It is so easy to get caught up isn't it. I am just glad my son is on the mend and that Jesus is perfect so I don't have to be!
Merry Christmas.
(I read all the time but post little...I look forward to more conversation when life slows down)

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

The master bedroom..yeah, that's me right now.

As for the decorations, when you focus on perfection it sucks the fun out of the decorating anyway.

Much better to focus on the Savior and enjoy our families and friends, even if it means some things go undone. Thanks for the encouragement, Jess!

Suzanne said...

Thank you for this reminder. I try very hard to keep Christmas simple and Christ-centered, but it's almost impossible with all the "stuff" you're "supposed" to do!

I don't decorate; I bake very, very little; and I cut back on almost all outside activities. Might be extreme, but I don't want our DD growing up thinking Christmas is about stress and presents instead of Jesus.

Linda said...

This was a good post. I agree with you, and it's good to be reminded of it. Our Master bedroom seems to take the most wear around here. I always remind myself that I'm not a "super" mom and that as long as the important things are covered, eventually we'll get to the not so important things. Funny, because that is where most of the winter to spring clothes swap occurs for five-almost siz children. When that is cleared, the laundry is still beckoning me to come. So, if I want peache and tranquility this thought is a must.

Anonymous said...

Jess,

Your blog is an encouragement for my daily life. Thanks for take time to share with us your thoughts. Indeed every house has something undone...

Marlia Piedramartel

Ruth said...

Great reminder!

You know... it is said that the grass is always look greener on the other side of the fence, but -before we covet- we really ought to find out how much the other person pays for water and fertiliser. ;)

Greetings from the Caribbean. Love your blog, so I'll be back. :D

Birthblessed said...

You know, Tuesday night we had a bit of a... um, "discussion" in which my frustration came out as "We never finish anything!" It's not entirely true-- but there are loose ends that need to be tied up here and there, for sure.

However, a gentle admonition, dear little Sister: your master bedroom is not just a place to sleep. Go back to Song of Songs, and think of ways to create a haven for your marriage. Stack the boxes somewhere else. :)

Best Life said...

I have the decorations, baking, clean house, etc. But that's me. I love it and I do think for some reason it is a little easier for me (maybe 'cuz I'm overly compulsive....thus showing the not so appealing side). But I NEVER think other women should have their homes/lives the same as mine. I don't even notice if someone else doesn't have decorations, etc. until they start to apologize for it. Don't apologize...no one cares! A true friend loves you just the way you are. My friends know I'm ridiculous with the "perfect" house and I am grateful that they put up with my silliness. Just another perspective. Lisa~

Diana said...

This blessed me today! I had decided to pull out only a few favorite nativities and our advent wreath and leave most of our decorative items packed away this year. There is still that niggling feeling that I am doing something "wrong," though. Thanks for helping me remember why I made this decision!

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

Birth blessed on the master bedroom: I think of that ALL THE TIME! It really encourages me to make an appointment each week with myself to get in there and get it clean. It just so happens that I did it this morning. It is imprtant to remember how important that little corner of the house is.

Miranda said...

Thanks so much for this - I have to tell myself these things weekly - heck, daily! - I tend toward perfectionism and comparing so I am ALWAYS thankful when other moms remind me nobody has it all done :) Blessings!

Tanya said...

Yes, and we don't need to discuss the fact that I have 5 mountains of laundry in my laundry room. Or that my office is a disaster. Or that my kitchen floor is just plain nasty.

Nope, not going to mention it.

Ruth From Texas said...

Jess,
I read your blog on a regular basis. I can relate to much of your comments about being oversees as we spent some time in Germany last year, and though it was short I faced much culture shock while there. Anyway, after just giving birth to our fourth baby, one month ago today, I have definitely had to lay low on the perfect house this christmas. We put up the tree, stockings, nativity, etc. but much of the extra fluff stayed in the boxes. We are being more intentional about doing some fun family activities that will remind us of Jesus and what we are celebrating in the first place. We're doing an advent wreath for the first time. Each Sunday night we light a new candle and talk about that candle's significance. So far we have talked about hope...Jesus give us hope and preparation...we need to be living in preparation for eternity. I ordered a great book off of Amazon that has given me some simple but meaningful activities for the children. It is called the ADVENTure of Christmas by Lisa Welchel. So, the magazine perfect christmas is not happening around here, but instead we're enjoying some meaningful times together and refocusing a bit. Thanks for your blog. Merry Christmas!

Ruth from Texas

Christine said...

I love your honesty! Your blog is a true encouragement, and I thank you for that! Blessings!

Britt said...

Woo hoo! As always, you hit the nail on the head! I'm such a perfectionist that I literally have to stop and remind myself that things DON'T have to be perfect...I usually have to do this in our master bedroom (it's the LAST thing to ever be cleaned too!!! LOL!) You're amazing Jess...really!

Courtney said...

Amen Sista! Excellent reminder! Thanks for the encouragement!

Courtney
www.womenlivingwell.org

Shay said...

amen to that! :)

Misty said...

"someone else's life doesn't have to speak judgment into your life and your actions/inaction."
Thank you so much! I really like this post and the new one on being home... so true. I am a homeschool mom of six and for some reason always have compared myself. Someone else has their children in music lessons... makes their own bread... in better shape:) Great reminder!

CB said...

I'm re-reading this post via your favorites of 2008 post. I must have a short memory because I loved reading this post the first time, and couldn't remember where I read it! This one helped me remember that while housecleaning is not my strength, I can declutter well! And a day is good when we've homeschooled and eaten good meals even if I didn't get the bathroom clean.