I’ll admit it. My name is Joy and I’m a perfectionist. At a young age I was taught that there is a place for everything, and everything should be in its place. I haven’t reached ranks with those suffering from a compulsive disorder, but I’m the one dotting every “i” and crossing every “t” in their perfect little notebooks. Growing up in a home where everything was always in order, mostly due to my mother’s 3am rising to wash the floors and dust before the day began, I foolishly believed every good wife and mother would do the same.
Not long ago I found a “Housekeeping Schedule” I had prepared as a young bride. As I saw the tasks recorded and the weekly, monthly and seasonal agenda I had created, I began to laugh. Dust the baseboards. Empty the refrigerator. Wash the floors. Polish the silver. Shine the chandeliers. The last two make me smile. I thought I would actually have silver to polish and chandeliers to shine. The list is long and each task is assigned a specific day of the week, or month of the year. I had ingeniously designed the chart as a perpetual schedule that could be used every year for the rest of my cleaning life. Where did I find this “perfect” plan I had meticulously crafted? It was buried in that junk drawer housed in every home.
As Christmas nears, I’ve been reading “Untangling Christmas” by LeAnn Rice and Karen Ehman. Early in the book, LeAnn shares a story entitled, “Letting Go of Perfect”. It’s a story of exploding lasagne and a Christmas memory. Funny, it’s not the perfect tree, or the perfect meal, or the perfectly wrapped gifts that were described, but the bursting of a pan on a burner and tomato sauce with noodles decorating the kitchen.
This year, I need to let go of perfect. With my husband’s soon to be scheduled surgery, and myself still recovering from chemotherapy following a hospital stay, I need to release some ‘have to’s’. They aren’t really necessities, they are niceties. I need to surrender them.
What will this mean? The tree may not go up this year. The decorations may be sparse. I have to relinquish control of hosting Christmas dinner for my family, something I have done every year since getting married 23 years ago. The Christmas cards and yearly letter will most likely not be written. The gifts may not be as many or the wrapping as exquisite. The baking might not be completed. Actually, that last one I released years ago. I let others prepare the Christmas goodies. It's actually safer and tastier that way.
What will remain? Christ. Jesus will remain. At the heart and center of our celebration much will still be the same. I will rise long before the sun Christmas morning. I will most likely pop some Pillsbury Dough “Grands” into the oven. I will turn the coffee pot on. I will make enough noise to rouse those as excited as I, but not too much to awaken the sleepyheads. By dim light we will gather in the silence after everyone appears, and my husband will read the Christmas story from the Gospel of Luke. In the quiet of our home with the fireplace burning, wearing bed pants and bed heads, we will join together in singing Happy Birthday to Jesus. We will open gifts and unwrap love. There will be chocolate. There will be laughter. There will be hugs.
We might not inspire a Thomas Kincade painting, nor be remembered as a Normal Rockwell portrait, but we will be together under one roof with family and friends we hold dear.
I guess in many ways, nothing will change.
Letting go of perfect, lets me embrace the Perfect One whose birthday we celebrate.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given…” Isaiah 9:6
(I did provide links to "Untangling Christmas" as well as to both LeAnn and Karen's blogs, but for some reason they did not appear highlighted. If you place your cursor over their names, you will be able to click to their links.)