It’s Christmas Eve…
I hope you are:
#1. sleeping in
#2. enjoying a hot cup of coffee/tea in peace
#3. reading that book you’ve been meaning to get to all year
#4. planning your day, including a lovely stress-free meal, wonderful argument-free conversation with family and time to lovingly look into the future with hope, faith and wonder.
No, seriously…whose dream is this anyway?
None of these things are happening today at my house. Not. Even. Close.
And my kids are grown, independant and not pulling at my shirt asking for a pacifier (although, sometimes, the questions they ask make me think a pacifier would be an easier answer!).
At this stage of the game, after so many years, it should be easier, right?
Well, in some ways it is. I don’t have to stop half way through beating my cream to change a diaper. I don’t have to figure out how to stop baking the cake that is in the oven and only half cooked because we need to go to a hockey arena. I don’t have to get out of the shower, suds still foaming on my head, to stop an argument that has gone oh-so-wrong.
However, as the years have passed and my kids have grown into adults, I am still trying desperately to make things perfect on that one day that seems to beg for perfection….maybe trying to make up for all of those years that it just wasn’t.
But, let’s just sit back – just for a minute – and think about our need to create a picture life and present that scenario to the world that anything short of awesome would be inadequate…especially today when anything not resembling a Norman Rockwell painting would be considered a failure.
First, let’s get real. We all have enough things to do – the last thing we need is to spend time trying desperately to make things “right”. Just because your neighbours look like they have “it” all “together”, that’s not always the case. I know we all have those friends that claim to have the perfect life. You know who I’m talking about. Your friend Sally, a tall 5’10” blonde bombshell with abs of steel, a Harvard education and a home she decorated to look like it’s on the cover of House and Home. She’s married to Bob who makes like $65,000,000,000 a year, looks like Brad Pit, does his own laundry and single handedly crafted his entire dining room suite. And their kids…well, let’s not even go there. We’ll just say they are are polite, smart, and future Nobel prize winners. Every year, they send you their picture perfect Christmas card, arriving every year on November 20th with their children’s handprints lovingly stamped inside.
Now, I am fairly certain that Sally and Bob and their children are lovely, happy people. But I also think that Sally and Bob have their ups and downs…just like the rest of us. It may seem to you and me that, for some people like Sally and Bob, things go smoothly, every single day. But, just because we don’t see it – because we don’t see the mishaps – doesn’t mean they don’t happen. Sometimes, the Sally’s and Bob’s of the world don’t want you to know that their lives aren’t perfect. But, more often than not, we choose not to see the imperfection of other people’s lives.
And, specifically on holidays, we sometimes feel less than adequate if everything isn’t just so.
But why does it have to be? If things were perfect on the outside, do you think your story would unravel differently? Do you think your story would have a happier ending because everything was “in it’s place”?
Let’s look at a story – an all too familiar story – that has been told for centuries. You may or may not celebrate Christmas, and you may or may not believe it to be true, but I’m sure you all know the story of Christmas. And whether your culture believes the story or not, there are lessons to be learned about that night.
There was the hope that those three wise men needed to travel all that way, not really knowing what they would find…and that hope helped them continue walking even when they felt all was lost.
There was the faith that a young carpenter had in his new wife that was about to give birth to their son…the faith that her story was true and without judgement, his faith was strong enough to get him through that night.
There was the young woman who, without the belief that her new husband accepted her story, wouldn’t have made it to the manger.
There was the empathy of the innkeeper who found a place comfortable enough for a young couple to welcome their child into this world.
And whether you believe the story of Christmas to be true or simply believe it to be a lovely fable, this story was also far from perfect. Actually, nothing really went as planned. Yet, with hope, faith, belief and empathy, the story unravelled into a wondrous event.
If we look at the holiday season with those same values, we will see Christmas for what is really meant to be. Not the hopes that our trees will be perfectly trimmed or that our kids will make it through Christmas dinner without staining their clothes. That kind of perfection can be left to people on a movie set. Today, let’s celebrate the love of friendship and family. Let’s have hope that there will be enough love for everyone to renew the bonds that bring people together; let’s have enough faith to know that the good in the world will always trump evil; let’s learn that with empathetic hearts, we will understand that even sadness can happen during happy times (and that now is the most important time to lend an ear to friends who need it); and let’s believe that, no matter what, love – true, heartfelt love – conquers all.
Many blessings to you my friends. Here is wishing you all an “imperfect” holiday filled with hope, faith, empathy and love.