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Loretta LaRoche: No one's perfect, so take time to enjoy holiday prep

Loretta LaRoche

As a young wife and mother, I was possessed with being perfect.

I was like an inspector general with white gloves checking to see if any dust particles were lingering on furniture tops or handprints were on my "good towels." Every time I cleaned the house, I was sure that if I was imperfect, I would be caught by some group that would randomly stop by to check my house.

The holiday season escalated my madness, and I decorated everything with great fervor. I had special towels with yuletide sayings and soaps with imprinted wreaths. My Christmas tree could have been placed in the foyer at the White House and every gift was wrapped with a theme to match the contents.

I also made everything. I knitted scarves, baked bread, made fudge and decorated dozens of cookies. The gingerbread house could have doubled as a condo for a family of seven.

I was up day and night until I was bleary-eyed and exhausted. My children would come in to see what I was doing, but I was focused on my projects. After all, didn't they understand this was for them and it had to be perfect? Forget about enjoying the process.

Then there was Christmas dinner. It had to be extraordinary. My in-laws were coming and everything had to look good. I bought a huge turkey and all the fixings. My meal came straight out of Bon Appetite. It had to have a level of complexity to show off my culinary skills. My table was set with beautiful linens and a centerpiece fit for a queen's table.

I could not wait for my guests to arrive so that they could oh and ah over my accomplishments. As they entered my home, they gawked in awe, and I couldn't wait to take ownership of the compliments that came my way. Wasn't that the reward for all my efforts?

Well, those days are gone forever. During the years, I have met many individuals who suffer from the "disease to please" as a way to feel good about themselves. Unfortunately, a lot is lost along the way. Time is precious and you may want to see how much of it you are spending on doing things that are best left undone.

Don't become crazed and humorless getting ready for a holiday that is about "making merry." Have fun, have gatherings and allow everyone to participate in decorating and cleaning up.

You will not be canonized for baking the best mincemeat pie or having a home that looks like a photo in Home and Garden magazine. But you will be remembered for how much joy you brought to everyone's life.

Author, humorist, PBS star and Fortune 500 trainer Loretta LaRoche lives in Plymouth, Mass. To share your pet peeves, questions or comments, write to The Humor Potential, 50 Court St., Plymouth, MA 02360, send e-mail to getalife@lorettalaroche.com, visit the Web site at www.stressed.com, or call 800-99-TADAH (82324).