Less Than Perfect Moments

Christmas is a time of year steeped in traditions, some passed down from generation to generation, some newly started.   It also tends to be a time of year when we put an awful lot of pressure on ourselves to create that perfect family Christmas, or at least what we perceive to be that experience.   Often we are left feeling we didn’t quite measure up to all of those expectations.

When our children were small, we began the tradition of trekking out to the woods as a family, in search of the perfect Christmas tree.  Over the years,  we created many wonderful memories of those times spent with our kids.   Family spending quality time together, happily frolicking through the woods in search of the perfect tree.  Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

It looks something like this


Forgive me the big hair! It was the 80’s!!!

Funnily enough, the experience pictured in this photo is not the kind of moment or memory that is recalled most often.  Instead, it is the not so perfect family moments!  You know the ones.  What starts out to be a wonderful adventure soon spirals into a bit of freak show.

I was reminded of all of this the other day when my daughter messaged me to tell me that, in the midst of she & her husband putting up their Christmas tree, she got to telling him about one of our family jaunts out to the Christmas tree farm.  You guessed it, the less than perfect one!

She went on to share as she recalled the story,  she was laughing so hard,  she ended up in tears.  Not sad tears but the ones that have you trying to catch your breath because you are laughing so hard!

Admittedly, it was not one of our more proud family moments but, out of all of the years that we cut down trees together, it is still the one that gets told most often.

As I watch the next generation of parents attempting to create beautiful family moments together, I offer you this wee bit of advice, particularly around Christmas time.

Cut yourself some slack

Trust me when I tell you, somewhere along the road of raising your children, you will do & say things that are not considered the best way to handle a situation.  I guarantee that, although these incidents may mortify you at the time, they will likely end up being the stories most often told in years to come.

So here is our epic fail, not so perfect, family Christmas tree cutting experience.

Our children were in their late teens and the spirit of going out to cut down our Christmas tree quite possibly, was wearing a little thin.  After much moaning & groaning, I think I may have threatened that if they didn’t want to go, I would happily just go to a local lot & grab one.

This statement was met with looks of total disbelief, shrieks of disdain & most likely the thought that Mom had lost her mind.  That being said, we all grudgingly suited up & made our way into the car.

This particular year we hooked my husband’s landscape trailer to our vehicle, thinking that it would be much easier to toss the tree into the trailer rather than having to tie it down on the roof.

After checking the lights on the trailer (10 times minimum) & tossing in the handsaw, we headed off to the tree farm as we had done for so many years before.

As we got closer to the farm, the mood in the car lightened, in anticipation of picking out the perfect tree.

It was a beautiful winter day and there was a fresh layer of snow on the ground.  Although this created a lovely vista, the roads at the tree farm are not plowed so driving in became a bit of a challenge.

Not to worry, my husband is a very good driver AND he is Canadian.  Although he had to take a run at a couple of the hills, this only confirmed his impressive driving skills.  High fives all around!

Until the unthinkable happened.

As we took a run at the next hill, the road suddenly turned to the left.  Unfortunately, between the depth of the snow & the balding tires on our vehicle ,  the trailer jack-knifed & despite my husband’s valiant attempts to get us out of this pickle, we were not going anywhere.


A few profanities words were exchanged, when the level of frustration escalated to a whole new playing field.  One of total panic!  The concern was that someone else might gun the hill & run into us.  This sent my husband into, what I will call, a profanity spiral.

As we stood outside of the vehicle yelling at one another, exchanging banter, I heard the car doors slam as both of our children exited the vehicle proclaiming they weren’t going to listen to this shit crap & scattered off into the woods in different directions.

As I stood there listening to the profanity stricken man I was married to,  & watched my children disappear into the woods, I found my self thinking, we are the worst family ever!  We can’t even come out & cut down a GD Christmas tree together & enjoy the experience!

If my memory serves me correctly, I think someone stopped & took pity on us to help us out of our jam.  Probably another family who had likely experienced a not so perfect moment just like ours!  Secretly, they were thanking the Gods that it was someone else’s turn this year😂.

With our vehicle out of danger, we now set off in search of our children.  Somehow we all managed to pull ourselves together & set off to find a tree.  Perhaps they all just took pity on me & sucked it up for my benefit.  It doesn’t really matter now, it is just a funny story to tell!

So, as we head into the holidays, enjoy all that this time of year brings.  Focus on what matters & forgive yourselves for your not so perfect moments.  Someday, in the not so distant future,  you too, may find yourself recalling a story that brings you to tears.



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18 Responses to Less Than Perfect Moments

  1. Debbie Sauerteig says:

    You sure ARE a wonderful writer, Lynn! 😀

    Date: Thu, 12 Dec 2013 22:17:45 +0000
    To: debbiesauerteig@hotmail.com

  2. Robin Burns says:

    Thank you Lynn for the honest and profound recollection of your Christmases past! As you know I too have tried over the years to create those “Hallmark Moments” with our Christmas tee adventures and Tree Decorating nights. This year will be added to our “Not so Nice” moments
    when Stephen’s girlfriend Carolyn joined us one night this past week to decorate the tree. As I unwrapped the ornaments and the rest of the gang hung them on the tree we heard a strange noise behind us! No, it was not the clatter of hoofs from the reindeer but those of our dog Zeus. He had found his dog bed in the basement, dragged it upstairs to the living room and was proceeding to “hump” his bed. Oh it was a sight to behold! Shamefully, it will also be a memory
    we will all find hard to forget!

  3. Glen says:

    Wonderful story Lynn! We have a few similar ones of our own – out hunting for a tree (up around Tyrone) each December!

    Make no apologies for the hair, my dear. It looks great!


    • Lynn says:

      Thanks Glen! Great is not exactly how I would describe the doo, big, poofy & wild would be a better description! Think I many have even been getting perms in the days…lol! You are too kind my friend!

  4. Cheryl Marsh says:

    🙂 Thank God for tears of laughter!

    Cheryl Marsh

    Date: Thu, 12 Dec 2013 22:17:45 +0000
    To: clmavon@hotmail.com

  5. Pingback: It’s the Most Wonderful Time | Life After 50

  6. I am developing the opinion that creating a Christmas “tradition” is a really bad idea. It just adds another layer of ‘have-tos’ to an already stressful time of year. I used to feel bad that I hadn’t created a tradition with our kids for anything in particular (always meant to, never got around to it) but now I think maybe that was a lucky escape. 🙂

    • Lynn says:

      I think there are some traditions that just happen naturally but there is definitely this pressure to create the perfect family get together around Christmas.

      I remember one particularly difficult year. Long story, but my Dad had been ill & ended up having him along with my Mom & Stepdad for Christmas dinner which was quite stressful. I was left feeling so sad that Christmas. A good friend of mine listened as I tearfully told her about the events of the day. She just laughed & said, “we have such high expectations around this day. Our Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas if my Dad did start a big family argument at the dinner table” We both laughed ourselves silly!

      Thanks for sharing your perspective. Always appreciate the conversation!

    • joannesisco says:

      Heather, you might THINK you haven’t created any traditions, but it could be very surprising about what your boys think.
      Up until the card exchange I introduced, I would have said the same thing … until one year my boys were horrified that I didn’t want to go to a movie on Christmas Eve. Somewhere along the line, they thought of it as our family tradition. SERIOUSLY?! When did that happen?!
      Gilles and I still traipse into a theatre late on Christmas Eve with 4 grown children in their 20s and 30s to watch a movie … because they perceive it is one of our traditions.

  7. joannesisco says:

    Lynn – this story just reinforces my opinion that yesterday’s disaster is tomorrow’s really good story 🙂

  8. I like the way you’re expressing your thoughts in written words. You had me as one of your newest followers then. Grateful to have stumbled upon your site. Keep up the good work.

  9. Pingback: Family Traditions | Life After 50

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