Perfect. It’s THAT time of year again. I watched the commercial that touted years of happy family holiday moments, everyone grinning as the cookies/casserole/turkey/pie was placed in front of them. If only you use their seasoning/cookie dough/gravy mix/family recipe, life will be perfect and your family will look at you with the same radiant smiles as the case of the commercial.

And we all want the holidays to be perfect; that must be one of the universal truths all humans are bound by. Holiday music, smiling faces, lovely lighting, a few perfectly sifted snowflakes, and I’m crying at nearly every timely commercial, cheesy Hallmark movie, or greeting card out there.

Even before the advent of Pinterest, there were magazines and Norman Rockwell, Christmas trees and homemade decorations, twinkling lights and sleigh rides. Pressure to do everything just a little bit better. Add a little Thomas Kinkade and Charles Wysocki (check him out, Americana perfection), and we’re all done for.

Except real life isn’t that kind of perfect. There are sick kids and cakes that don’t rise, not enough time, not enough money, less than perfect family members and dropped casserole dishes. How many years did I wish for the next year, when the baby wouldn’t be teething, when the toddler would be old enough to understand the holidays, when out-of-town family would be able to gather with us, when I wouldn’t be forced to put the Christmas tree inside the playpen to protect it from the child who wouldn’t go near the playpen, when the weather would be better, etc., etc.

Problem is, we humans often tend to overlook when perfect is right under our noses. We have trouble accepting that still-life, perfect calendar and commercial pictures of frozen lakes and ice skaters, golden brown turkeys, and appreciative families are too still, too staged, too impossible.

Let’s step back just a little this year and give ourselves permission. Permission to breathe in the moment, to skip the manufactured, commercialized idea of perfect, to hug just a little bit harder, smile just a little bit wider, sleep just a little bit sounder, and wake up to the fact that perfect is exactly what’s in our hearts and in all the memories we’re making. It always has been.

Remember the Charlie Brown tree sitting lopsided in the living room of your childhood; the lumpy gravy that the whole family loved and tries their darndest to replicate now that Grandma is gone; the freezing noses and fingertips from walking around the neighborhood to look at holiday decorations; the gifts under the tree that might not have been what you wished for, but were exactly right after all?

Our children deserve exactly that kind of perfect.

Let’s give it to them. 

Vicki Bahr

I'm a mother of four, grandmother of nine, wife of John for nearly fifty years, an incurable optimist, word lover, and story sharer. I've worked and played at many careers, from proofreader to preschool teacher, businesswoman to human interest newspaper columnist to medical records clerk. Each path has afforded me the opportunity to appreciate the warmth of humanity and to hopefully spread a lifetime of smiles, empathy, and God's inspiration along the way. My life continues to be one of delight. With experience comes understanding, with understanding comes peace.