Everything will probably not go according to plan this Holiday season, and that’s ok. The kitchen floor might be sticky for the entirety of December, and that’s ok. You might not have made Martha Stewart worthy gifts for all the neighbors, and that’s ok. You and your family might not get along and discuss things of value while wearing matching sweaters, and that’s also ok.
When I was a little girl one Christmas I read a seasonal book targeted at Christian women and it made a huge impression on me. The first chapter included two variations of the same scenario. The first described an idyllic wife, gliding through her custom made farmhouse in a vintage apron, enjoying the smells and sights of her beautiful home and children. Her parents arrive through the front door, bringing with them a red flannel sack full of educational and tasteful toys. At some point towards the end of the scene the woman’s husband goes whizzing past the front door in a horse drawn sleigh.
The second scenario sketches a very different picture, with the same players. The absent minded wife rushes through her home, listening to the grating sounds of her children’s voices and the loathsome Uncle Freddie who is watching football. Whether Uncle Freddie is loathsome because he is watching football or simply because he is loathsome is left to our discretion. The dinner is not on time, food is burnt, and the kitchen floor is a sticky mess from the baking done earlier in the day. Her parents burst through the front door amid chaos and the presents distributed are plastic and cheap, and there are so many of them!
The comparison made a huge impression on me. Obviously. It’s almost 11 bloody years later and any time I hear my mums say something not being spot on,s or something she didn’t do this year, I think of that damn book and I want to burn it. Because you know what? The people who love you remember the spirit of an event, not the magazine-worthy perfection of it. I remember the old Christmas albums of Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney playing in the background. I don’t remember whether the kitchen floor was sticky or clean, but I do remember having a full belly. I remember my mums smiling indulgently at my dad when he did something odd. I don’t remember if our toys were strictly educational, but I do remember that they catered to who we were as little people. I don’t remember my mums ever wearing an apron, but there was always room for unannounced visitors at our table.
The point of all this reminiscing is...I think we get so caught up with the way things are “supposed to be” or the way they’re supposed to appear via Instagram that we forget that the spirit of the matter takes place throughout the whole year, whether you set up a creche with a baby Jesus, use a menorah to keep track of Hanukkah, or gift to the poor during Milad un Nabi. It’s the heart of the matter the other 11 months that counts.
Happy Holidays everyone!