• Jamie Shakotko

Holidays: Joyful or Stressful?

When I was a child, my family had a holiday ritual. Sometime during the first week of December, we’d load up the car and head out in search of the perfect Christmas tree, everyone full of Christmas cheer, singing carols along the way. Once we arrived at the tree lot, my mom had to inspect every single tree to make sure we purchased the very best one. My dad’s job was to stand up each tree, shake it to make the branches settle and turn it several times to see if there were any bald spots. After repeating this process several times, Mom and Dad would start to bicker. It didn’t matter to Dad what the tree looked like, but Mom had to have the perfect one. And Mom would always win!

As an adult, I had every intention of continuing my family’s tradition. My first Christmas being married, I was really excited to finally have the opportunity to pick out my own perfect Christmas tree. My husband, Curtis, and I drove to the tree lot, and I had him pick up each tree, shake and turn it to make sure there were no bald spots. After about the tenth tree, I could see that he was getting irritated (this was the part of the tradition I did not want to repeat), so, I decided on the first tree we’d seen, which had the best shape, no bald spots and was over seven feet tall—the perfect size for our living room. I asked Curtis to have a little bit of the trunk trimmed to make it easier to fit in the stand, while I went to the parking lot to get the truck.

When we arrived home, I eagerly ran inside to get the space ready, while he stayed outside putting the tree in the stand. But moments later as I opened the door to guide him in, my heart sank. The tall, beautiful tree I’d selected was now the same height as me—a whopping five feet tall! I immediately burst into tears. More than two feet had been “trimmed” from the trunk. My perfect tree was perfect no more.

We often have unrealistic expectations for the holidays, wanting everything to be as picture perfect as the scenes we know from movies and glossy magazines, forgetting that those scenes have been carefully staged. That striving for perfection can make us feel stressed instead of joyful. Fleauxt wants to offer a little help to make your holiday season more joyful. Although we can’t help you find a Christmas tree, we do have great gift ideas that will be perfect for everyone on your list, including yourself!

As for my wish for the perfect Christmas tree, on our third Christmas together, Curtis and I decided an artificial tree might be the way to go. This decision was made immediately after our second Christmas, when our cats decided my beautifully decorated tree was too pretty to resist and climbed to the top, causing it to come crashing down. As I stood among the broken ornaments, I cried again, but this time the tears were from laughter. That’s when I realized that Christmas is not about picture-perfect anything; it’s about creating memories with loved ones to treasure forever—memories just like that one.

We hope your holidays are filled with joy. Remember to Relax | Breathe | Fleauxt this holiday season!

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