I wrote it years ago — Careless with my Christmas. A story about how I just didn’t fit into the Norman Rockwell painting of it all. So I stopped trying — not giving up on Christmas, but letting go of the idea of what it was “supposed to look like” — I stopped trying to paint myself into someone else’s picture and start living in my own. Maybe we all do that – try to fit into some impossible, and inevitably disappointing version of the “perfect Christmas.” That perfect version only happened once, and to be honest, it wasn’t even all that perfect — it included rejection and wandering and acceptance, and and hope and love, rugged ground, and straw — but that was the real beauty, I suppose, the grace that lay in all those imperfections.
I made a promise to myself, those many years ago, that I wouldn’t waste another Christmas, trying to make it perfect. I looked into the manger of my heart and promised I would take care, appreciate, and never let another slip away. We’re not given that many.
I’m not saying it has been easy. Last night, the first Christmas Eve without my mom, I fought those tears of tenderness all evening. And then, I couldn’t. We opened up our Christmas fortune cookies (I told you I had gladly given up on the “normal.”) The print was way too small. Margaux read it aloud in French, and then English — “When two hearts are connected no distance is too far.” I guess it wasn’t chance that I received that message. I let the tears flow. And it was OK. It was good to feel it.
I wasn’t careless with the tears. I let them fall gently. Held them in my hands. Dabbed the lines. And took the dampened straw of my heart back down to the lit tree where we opened presents. And hugged. And smiled. And loved.
Today, we will do it again. And it will be different. Possibly even difficult at moments, but it will be beautiful.
Take care of your heart. Take care of each other. Take care of this perfectly imperfect, Christmas Day.