It seemed like a good idea at the time. Buy the gingerbread village kit for my six year old. It came with everything he needed to construct five little houses. He could construct to his heart's content, and I could get some work done. With the five little houses to decorate, his brothers and sister could even get into the act if they wanted.
Aye-yi-yi. Nothing is that simple- not even a gingerbread village kit with all items provided. First, we read all the directions (Oh, what have I got myself into?). I quickly realized my afternoon pans were shot. So we began with the first step. Cut the gingerbread walls and roofs apart with a very sharp knife and a ruler. I believe I got two walls cut apart before a chimney bought it.
"It's okay. Mom. It doesn't have to be perfect."
"I wouldn't want things to be perfect. When they are perfect you can't see colors."
"That is in Sissy's book. Everything is perfect, but the people can't see colors. I'd rather see colors than have everything perfect."
Now I realize this is the point where I should have explained what fiction is to him. But I was so struck by this thought that all I could do is muse and keep imperfectly cutting apart gingerbread walls.
When everything is perfect you can't see colors. My daughter's book may be a work of fiction, but I am not sure this idea is. This is the time of year moms world-wide go a little perfection crazy. We all want to provide the "perfect" holiday, chock full of warm, sweet memories for our children, friends, extended family, and strangers on the street. Our food should be made from scratch. The gifts should be just right, full of meaning, and wrapped to the nine's. Cards with thoughtful messages should be sent to every human who has ever had an impact on our life. The house should look like the inside of a magazine. Our church services should provide moments so touching we have tears in our eyes. And, ideally, our family would re-create a scene from Little Women and provide some beautiful act of charity befitting the season with a graciousness of heart and attitude only shown by saints.
Now that is fiction.
Yet many, most, years I have fallen for it. Trying, trying, trying to get it all done in a very short time frame... perfectly. And every year I have tried, I have wigged out in ways that even amazed me. One year my spouse came home to find me urging our stir-crazy, paint-covered children to keep working to meet our quota of homemade Christmas ornaments for family members. "What is this- a sweatshop?" he asked. I certainly wasn't seeing in color that day.
When we are all wrapped up in producing the perfect, we often miss the meaningful and the fun. So this year, as we finished our very imperfect, very colorful gingerbread village, I decided to shelve all my "perfect" plans for the season. I am going to aim for quieter and simpler. I have to agree with my son. I'd rather see colors than have everything perfect.