By Lana Turnbull
Even before the first fall leaves have made their way to the ground, our mailboxes, inboxes and TV screens have already been flooded with images of the perfect holiday table, the perfect menu, the perfect gifts, the perfect tree…and the list of perfection goes on and on. I’m not knocking the idea of making our homes and holiday events special for family and friends. I love poring over the catalogues, carefully unpacking the treasured decorations, and planning the traditional holiday meal. Of course in my mind’s eye everything is absolutely…perfect. There’s that word again.
Unfortunately, the holidays are also the time for stress, anxiety and depression. Okay, before I become a total “party pooper,” I’ll get to the point. Perfection not only is unnecessary, it is not what makes us longingly remember the holidays with such nostalgia. When I think about holidays from my childhood it is not the perfect window dressings that made them memorable, but how we spent the days, who we shared them with and the love we had for each other.
Example: my “most thankful” Thanksgiving. One cold, rainy day before Thanksgiving when I was about eight years old, my grandfather got lost while hunting. He had been out in the woods all day and nobody had missed him until they went back to pick him up not long before dark. When we got the phone call about Granddaddy, my mother and I struck out on flooded roads to be with the rest of the “women and children” while the “men and boys” searched the woods, and we all waited to hear if he had been found. When the word came he was safe, it was clear that it would be the best Thanksgiving we had ever had. I don’t remember what we had for Thanksgiving dinner or even where we ate it, but it is a holiday that will always stand out among my memories of growing up.
Absent the part about getting lost in woods, I have been thinking about how I can make a memorable holiday for my family. We’ll still do all the traditional things like baking pecan pies and “Mama’s little baby rolls,” (as my husband likes to call my mother’s favorite yeast rolls). We’ll trim the tree and gorge ourselves on hot artichoke dip and peanut butter cups, but I promise not to try to be…PERFECT! Let me say it again…not only will I not try to be perfect, I will embrace my lack of perfection! Instead, I’ll smile a lot, laugh even more, hug everybody I love and let the dishes sit until after we recover from dessert. I won’t care if the dinner planned for 1:00 was not on the table until 3:00 and I will not apologize if the turkey is a little dry. I’ll just make sure there is plenty of giblet gravy. At the end of the day I’ll sit back surrounded by the ones I love, tired and overfed but gloriously happy that I spent my day on the important things instead of in pursuit of perfection.
From all of us at Well-Being, here’s wishing all of you an absolutely blessed, but magically imperfect holiday season.