By the time you read this, the Christmas festivities are going to be what they are going to be. It’s almost too late to do anything much different. The food, the gifts, the guest lists are all pretty set at this time.
So the advice I am about to give is going to come at the last minute of Christmas Eve: Embrace a “good enough” Christmas.
It is a running joke that people — often women — are exhausted in the pursuit of perfection. They run themselves and their budgets to a nub trying to make the “perfect” holiday.
Your home is fine. Homey. Lived in. Sweep, wipe, do whatever you are comfortable with and invite people over. They should be coming to see you, not inspect your baseboards for dust. Remember, a nice Christmas candle and some twinkle lights can go a long way.
Last week, I wrote about the joy of secondhand gifts. That definitely doesn’t allow for “perfection.” This year we are embracing literal “outside the box” gifts. Thrift, second hand, experiences, service and so much more.
There is no “supply chain interruption” on these things. Collected recipes and antiques are not stuck on a shipping container somewhere. Local craftspeople came through admirably with lovely gifts.
Around the home and family we also can relax. As we approach the pinnacle of the “Christmas Performance,” let me assure you this: something will go wrong.
Cookies will burn, cakes will fall flat, small children will spill cocoa on their best dress-up clothes. Christmas lights will burn out at the most inopportune times.
As mentioned endlessly all season, some gifts may not arrive in time. Roast or toast — whatever you do for dining — be grateful to be fed. It is a blessing not enjoyed worldwide.
What I want to do this season is fuss less and laugh more. Breathe. Relax. Accept imperfection. I think we all want an amazing gathering and celebration of the season, assuming we partake. What we don’t want to do is get so caught up in perfection that we forget to have fun.
This includes the pressure to “Make Memories!” I am the person who says, “if it’s not in the photos it didn’t really happen.” Nonetheless, I also want to remember to step out from behind the lens and be in the moment when it is happening rather than catching up with the memory later on.
Count your blessings
Now more than ever, if you get a chance to spend time with loved ones here on Earth — or at least telephone or FaceTime them — let’s count those blessings.
There are so many people who would give anything to hear a loved one’s voice again, let alone sit around the table with them. Do not ever take that for granted.
I can assure you that I do not recall if the food and gifts were perfect on Christmas Eve of 2019. I do know that our nephew’s smile was.
We lost him in early 2020, and I still miss his booming laugh. He will be missed this Christmas Eve just as he is missed every day. At the risk of seeming morbid, I want to remember that none of us are promised tomorrow, let alone future holidays.
In traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. I think that is a lovely and gracious idea.
After all, if we are celebrating a savior who was “born in a barn,” it seems fitting to be less than demanding of utter perfection.
‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. At our house though, there may be a mouse. We own it.
A farmhouse in the country is going to have that. We are anything but perfect and that, my friends, is perfectly in the spirit of this season.
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