"Oh, to have a perfect Christmas!"
This potent illusion grabs us by the throat sometime in September. It lifts only on the afternoon of December 25, in concert with the 3 p.m. Christmas post-gift letdown. It's a fancy subscribed to by many well-meaning holiday planners. It sells one heck of a lot of Christmas magazines.
To my dismay, it may even have motivated you to join the Christmas Countdown!
The culprit? The Ghost of Christmas Perfection. This siren song sings as follows: "It is possible to organize a completely stress-free, hassle-free, calm, serene and spiritual holiday season!"
This Web site notwithstanding, paying heed to the idea of a "perfect Christmas" will clog your planning and cloud your joy--and it's just not possible.
Over the years of my adult life, I've been organized and I've been disorganized. I've been child-free and child-bound, swamped with houseguests or all alone. I will tell you: it is simply not possible to create a perfectly organized holiday season.
There will always be something. Always.
It wouldn't be the holiday season otherwise! Holiday realities are fights with in-laws, returning gifts, burned cookies, collapsed gingerbread houses, pets in the side dishes, stains on the rug, cranky children, broken ornaments, and grouchy late-night sessions at the sewing machine.
Stop and think: this is the material of life! Look back in your memories, and you'll see that every Christmas Imperfect lays its own special claim to your heart.
In my own copybook, nothing could be a better contender than Christmas, 1997: A Tale of Two Turkeys. One turkey, the edible variety, was still frozen rock-hard late on the evening of Christmas Eve. Turkey Number One was scheduled to appear as dinner the following day. What to do?
The second turkey, our household's home manager (take a bow, Cynthia!), got the bright idea of speeding the thawing process by depositing the turkey-sicle in the utility room sink, and running cold water over it. Leaving the bathing bird unattended, Turkey Number Two returned to merrymaking, innocence herself.
Twenty minutes later, the sound of rushing water alerted the household. Turkey Number One had wedged his frozen little heinie in the drain of the sink, blocking it and causing Lake Noel to spread an inch deep over the hardwood floors of kitchen, hall, and dining nook.
The ensuing panic involved eight adults, every towel in the household and gratuitous sound effects from a shorted-out security system. To complete the humiliation, the entire sad-and-soggy episode was witnessed by a full slate of houseguests, including my parents, children, and auntie.
Turkey Number Two had her revenge the next day. I have seldom had such joy carving open the breast of a holiday turkey before or since. Christmas Imperfect--but boy, do I remember it well!
This is not to say that you can't do a lot to promote organization in your holiday planning. You can. Tested organization techniques smooth out many rough places as we travel together toward the height of the season. You can do "more organized." You can do "simpler," "more fulfilling," and "more spiritual."
But you can't do "perfect" because life never is. Who would want it that way, really?