Several years ago for a newspaper story, I interviewed a Dallas mom named Sue about the great lengths she and her family go to every year to come up with a crazy family photo for their Christmas card—often complete with costumes, props, and backdrops. In one memorable photo, her family is seen atop a fake “snowcovered roof” dressed as Santa and other holiday characters. The youngest child, a baby, is wailing mightily, one of the dogs is sliding off the roof, and Sue is laughing. Obviously things didn’t go quite like they’d planned, but Sue told me the card was a huge hit, and “friends of friends” began asking to get on their card address list. At the time of the interview, it numbered around 250… I think a lot of people liked that card not only because it was funny, but because Sue’s family had the guts to do what many don’t —show off (and celebrate) their real family. In addition to “Happy Holidays”, it sent an underlying message that not being perfect is okay. If only we could all chill out and remember that, especially during the holidays.
Because there’s a lot of striving for perfection that goes on this month, whether it’s having perfectly wrapped presents, or a perfectly decorated tree, or perfectly iced cookies…I remember so well when my kids were younger, worrying that they’d goof up or do something embarrassing in the church Christmas pageant, and I noticed young parents fretting about the same last week. But—what was the absolute best part of this year’s pageant? The smorgasbord of mishaps, from Joseph not wanting to hold Mary’s hand as they plodded along the carpeted “streets of Bethlehem”, to lots of “sheep” wandering away from their “shepherds”, to kids singing at the wrong time—even an angel who burst into tears and had to be carried out right as the show was beginning. It was beautiful, it was wonderful, and it was kids being kids. I can’t remember if we gave them a standing ovation or not, but they deserved one.
The sweetest notes played at the “Beginning Band Winter Concert” last week were the sour ones; the best-dressed kid at the 6th grade class holiday party yesterday was the one with ice cream on his face; and the best gift we can give our family, our friends and ourselves this season, or any season, is grace.
Just please remind me of that when the high school 1st semester final grades come out next week…