My Imperfectly Perfect Christmas and a Reflection on Time
A month since Christmas. So hard to believe how fast time goes. Yet at the same time, at times, time moves painfully slow. A few examples from various perspectives:
Waiting for Santa, pregnancy, winter, test results, the school year...slow.
Advent (for grown-ups!), infancy, summer, deadlines, vacations...fast, sometimes painfully so.
For children, the days seem to last forever. For grown-ups, the years fly by. Or so the saying goes. I don’t know if that’s always true. What I do know is that it’s about time. I mean, literally, this little musing of mine is about TIME. This is the time of year when I tend to think I can somehow wrestle it to the ground, tie it up into a neat schedule, and tame it into submission to my plans. It seems to work. For awhile. Until it doesn’t. Then I have to remind myself that life just doesn’t work that way. I don’t know about you, but I can set goals, categories of my goals, sub-categories of the categories. Then I create tasks and categorize them into time increments. How many 5 minute tasks can I really squeeze into this 25 minute chunk of free time coded by an orange highlighter on my daily schedule? Or, should I sit in-front of a quick fire brought to life by the flip of a switch and have some much coveted quiet time? This internal struggle of mine is real and is evident at the end of the week where I judge myself by how many items on the list are crossed off and how many are circled. Better yet, I check off how many categories from my “ideal week” were included. Reading, knitting, exercise, etc. etc. (Really. You can’t make this stuff up.)
Lest you think I’ve completely forgotten about my imperfect Christmas ~ no, not possible- the circled items on my list are a glaring reminder ~ I have a few thoughts and maybe they’ll resonate with you too. You see, each year, I fool myself into thinking I am NOT seeking a perfect Christmas, and each January after the Christmas season ends ~ officially on the Baptism of the Lord for you Catholics! ~ I manage to feel discouraged yet again at the many ways I failed.
And fail I did. Some big ways (can I NOT resist giving words to thoughts during a tense interaction?) Some small ways (why didn’t I double-check the quantity box while ordering my Christmas cards?) My “list” encourages me to finish the tasks which should have been completed weeks ago and my stubbornness pushes me through any excuses: I WILL finish reading the Advent reflection book send as a gift from a dear friend. Maybe by Valentine’s Day. I will send out the remainder of Christmas cards which came in a subsequent order when I realized I only ordered ONE box instead of two. Sigh.
As I ponder the hanging on and letting go of self-prescribed to-do items on my “list”, I think maybe a few to-don’ts might come in handy for next year:
Don’t forget to give yourself grace when not living up to self-imposed expectations
Don’t forget that it’s OK to strive for perfection- it means you’re an optimist.
Don’t forget that there is only one way to have a perfect Christmas: invite Jesus into it.
After all, what made that first Christmas perfect wasn't the beautiful decorations or Pinterest-worthy cookies. Think about it: No reservation. Smelly animals and smelly shepherds. Not quite what Mary and Joseph may have had in mind. What made it perfect? Jesus was there.
Well, despite myself, maybe my Christmas was pretty perfect after all.