I’m a wee bit OCD. As in, my dishes have lines on them and when stacked in the cupboard, all of the lines must line up. Or that my shirts are organized by color, by season. Every container in my pantry has a scrapbook-worthy label. I try to control the chaos that is my home inhabited by three little people as much as I can – mostly without much luck – but *my* areas of the house remain intact and organized.
This traditionally has also extended to decorating for Christmas. Each year found me working like a madwoman during nap time or at night after the wee ones were in bed. I’d plug in Christmas tunes (Rat Pack is my favorite), grab a coffee (usually enhanced with some Bailey’s), and I’d merrily decorate to my heart’s content. When the kiddos were awake, they’d be so delighted to see all that I’d done and to let the festivities officially commence.
This year I tried something new. My daughter begged me to let them help decorate. I know, I know… that’s probably something you all do with your kids, right? For those of us with OCD where certain things must be a certain way or you can’t sleep at night, giving up control of Christmas decorating is a tremendously big step. I’ve always strived for that Pinterest-perfect Christmas tree, something my children would award “Prettiest tree ever” until I’d outdo myself the next year. Letting your kids help with that is almost certainly not going to win any Pinterest awards, unless, of course, you’re going for a Pinterest Fail.
Anyway, this year, I put on Christmas tunes (my beloved Rat Pack was negated and something with dogs barking to the tune of Jingle Bells was selected instead). I had no Bailey’s in my coffee as I’m on this clean eating thing and can’t have alcohol. And I sat on the couch and put hooks in the ornaments. I left the rest to my family. I enjoyed listening to their enthusiasm; I laughed as my eldest (10) admonished the youngest (2) for putting all of the ornaments on one single branch; I smiled and forced out statements like “Oh, that’s lovely” when really I had to sit on my hands not to go “fix it.”
My husband even got in on the mix and used little red lights to light up our stocking display (Red. Red, people. My colors are maroon and gold. I can’t tell you how hard that was not to groan over that). The kids brought out every ornament I have, 25% of which I’ve never ever used because they didn’t match the color scheme. Ornaments they’d made as toddlers in day-care; ornaments my parents had bought them as Christmas gifts; ornaments from my grandma. I smiled, put hooks in ornaments, cut pieces of tape, and made hot cocoa for the kids. I quietly hummed a morphed Christmas carol, an ugly stepchild from the marriage between the classic “Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow” and Elsa’s “Let it Go.”
When they were done, we all cuddled back on the couch and looked at the tree. With my kiddos on my lap and in my arms, I felt my evil OCD nagger quieting. The children were so darn proud of their tree – and albeit terribly tacky, it really was lovely and truly was THEIRS. The entire room was filled with so much love the stockings themselves were nearly bursting at the seams. Maybe this “including the rest of the family in decorating for Christmas” thing wasn’t so bad after all and something I could make a tradition. And when it’s time to take it all down and put it away for next year (because I know I won’t have much help in that area), I can make those damn red lights disappear so they don’t resurface next year. There’s only so much a girl with OCD can take.