Christmas Perfection?

Christmas Perfection

For those of us who tend to be perfectionists the question really is ‘What does perfect mean’?

We prepare so that our event is perfect! The house has been cleaned, Christmas baking done with loving care, the bedding has been washed and changed awaiting the arrival of guests, the house spic and span, food bought and ready to prepare. The gifts have been thoughtfully and carefully selected; bought and wrapped with pretty ribbons and bows. The tree lights are shimmering through the front window to welcome beloved guests and the fireplace is burning ensuring an extra warm greeting. We believe everything is perfect!

But wait… This is the true story of my family’s 2017 Christmas experience. My son and his wife are hosting this year. Their beautiful home is nestled in the pristine foothills of Alberta, about an hour from Calgary. My daughter and her husband along with their two sons aged 3 and 5, the new baby along with her husband’s father are expected for Christmas, along with the two grandmothers, of which I am one.

My daughter’s family arrives late due to unexpected circumstances. Rather than Christmas morning for gift opening, playing and visiting it now took place in the early evening, shortly before Christmas dinner. The children were delighted to see each other, the four cousins trying out their own and each other’s Christmas toys.

Adults left the children to enjoy themselves and headed upstairs to finish final meal preparations. Meanwhile, adults were unaware that the grandfather gifted more money to my oldest grandson.

While the adults were upstairs the youngest boy accidentally broke a major component on one of the games. He was discovered trying to tape it back together. Got to give this little man credit. A problem solver at such a young age! But what is done is done. The game is broken.

What is happening to the perfect picture of Christmas?

Back upstairs, the adults were working on the finishing touches in preparation for the Christmas meal. Table is being set. Grandfather doesn’t want to relinquish holding his new granddaughter, allowing her only momentary cuddles with other adults. This man is possessive and in love! The children are playing nicely. Then my daughter’s oldest child comes up and lies on the couch. He doesn’t want to play and obviously isn’t feeling too well.

The next thing one knows his stomach has erupted into a volcano, over the couch, the pillow and himself, chunks of undigested food clinging in and through his hair. Towels are quickly grabbed. A mad rush to clean both child and couch. Bath is poured for this poor little boy. Washing machine is engaged, the couch is washed down. A disinfecting campaign is put into high gear in hopes that no one else catches this bug.

Grandfather tries to get his daughter-in-law’s attention as the baby has had a major spit up. The baby is completely soaked and needs to be cleaned and changed. Once cleaned my daughter hands the baby back to the grandfather and then takes the towels used for her son’s clean up outside into the cold dark frigid air. She attempts to shake out the undigested food onto the snow. It is dark outside and she does not realize what she has done.

She comes in and much to her dismay realizes that she has is covered with the debris from the towels. The baby is starting to fuss. It is time to be fed, however my daughter needs to clean herself and change her clothing before the baby can be taken care of.

Grandfather acknowledges the baby won’t settle so he reluctantly but gratefully relinquishes his possession of the baby to me. Thankfully she seems to have a patient disposition!

So much for the perfect Christmas! But wait, there’s more.

The overnight plans to enjoy a family sleep over with an adult game night and wonderful family visiting on Boxing Day have been cancelled. After dinner my daughter’s family heads back to the city with grandfather in tow.

So much for the perfect Christmas! But wait, there’s more.

The cleaning is done, the two grandmothers are still there. Ethan tells his mother that he told his little cousin not to worry about breaking the hockey game as no one would be mad at him as it was an accident. What a demonstration of compassion and his un-attachment to one of his favourite Christmas gifts!

And up comes Tyler to inform us that he received more money from the grandfather. His mom says that he should have refused the second money gift. He says that maybe he can share some of it with his brother. Meanwhile their dad is researching the possibility of a replacement part for the broken toy. He finds it for $30 plus GST online, and immediately Tyler volunteered to pay for it with the extra money the grandfather gifted him. He hands over a fifty, stipulating that he expects to get $15 back. A little business man in the making?

My dear sweet daughter-in-law is distraught. Her perfectly planned Christmas for which she had put in so much planning and effort had not panned out as she had envisioned. She is in tears. I could only imagine how my daughter and her husband must have felt.

What happened to the perfect Christmas?

We reviewed the events of the day, discussing how we could remember it. It certainly did not turn out as planned. There were two choices, one of which was to focus on all the chaos and disappointments of the day or to focus on the example of two young boys who demonstrated kindness, generosity of spirit and compassion, giving us adults an example of what Christmas truly means. They filled the day with their love, kindness, compassion and selflessness. We agreed to choose the latter. It was a perfect Christmas!

In the years ahead 2017 is sure to be remembered as the perfect Christmas!

We get to choose what we focus on in all circumstances, which will affect how we feel. When I read this capture of our Christmas experience to my family the next day we were all laughing at the memories.

-Mary Anne


Photo by Scott Feldstein