How to Have a Perfectly Imperfect Christmas

Each week the Reckon Women newsletter includes a column from a woman in the South, in collaboration with See Jane Write

By: Linda Lyle

In 1994 I was teaching English in Seoul, South Korea on a two-year mission. For the first time in my life I wouldn’t be home for the holidays. This was before the internet, cell phones, and video calls were a thing.

My friend Brian and I decided that if we were going to be away from home, then we should make it something to remember, so we arranged to go visit friends who were working in Hong Kong. We toured the city, rode the ferry across the harbor, and even were invited on a night yacht cruise to Llama Island. We saw the lights of the city as well as the boat people, not to mention enjoying a fabulous seafood dinner. On Thanksgiving Day we joined several missionary families and three sailors from a navy ship anchored in the harbor. It wasn’t traditional, but it was memorable.

Every year as Thanksgiving approaches, I have great plans for the holidays. In my mind, I see my house perfectly clean down to the cracks and crevices, ready for decorating. I have mental lists of all the activities I want to do during the season and how I want the house to look.

We all have dreams of the perfect holiday, and many of us are afraid the current situations in the world will ruin all of our plans. But we can still have the perfect Christmas even if it doesn’t all go according to plan.

Perfection is a misunderstood concept in today’s society. Biblically speaking, perfection actually means to be complete in all its parts, fully grown, or something being used in its intended function. Perfection is about growth as a human; not something lacking in imperfections or flaws. Flaws are what make life interesting. In fact, in the art world it is actually a positive quality that gives a work its own uniqueness.

Bob Ross became well known for his upbeat painting lessons on public television. He was famous for his phrase “happy accidents,” referring to “mistakes” in painting. When something didn’t turn out as he planned, he would turn it into something else, often enhancing the work in a way he hadn’t imagined.

In the Bible, Jeremiah was sent to the potter’s house for a visual lesson. The potter was working when he encountered a problem: “And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it” (Jeremiah 18:4, KJV). The clay was marred, so the potter turned it into something else that would serve a function. The potter was using clay, not stone, so the piece was malleable. It could be reworked to still serve its purpose.

The same can be true of what makes a holiday perfect. When things don’t go according to our plan, we can either have a melt down or we can look at it as a chance to make something new. The truth is most of my fondest memories of my childhood were not a perfectly set table or amazing presents, but all of us gathered around the table eating and talking or playing board games. Burned cookies or a gingerbread house that collapses is not a failure when you are spending time with people you love.  Even when I couldn’t be home for the holidays, I made the most of where I was and made memories with those around me.

So, this Christmas might not look exactly like you imagined it. It may not be like any Christmas you have ever had, but that doesn’t have to ruin the holiday unless you let it. I challenge you to let go of your idea of perfect. Instead of writing your plans in stone, etch them in clay. Take whatever happens this holiday and make it work. Then you will have a perfectly imperfect holiday that you will remember for years to come.

Linda Lyle is a freelance writer and editor from Jacksonville, Alabama. She loves God, her 3 cats, books, and knitting.

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