Imperfect Holidays

Friday, 17 December 2010
I read an article in a magazine about a mom who was so fed up with her sister doing everything "perfectly" over the holidays. Cards were out by Dec. 3rd, cookies were baked and iced without one smear, presents were wrapped with long, flowing, florist-like bows. She declared she was "giving up" on Christmas because she couldn't compete.

After talking to friends who discussed their "real" Christmas follies, the mom decided the holidays weren't about perfection but instead memories. In the spirit of that realization, I wanted to share some of my imperfect holiday memories. Please share yours too.

1. Christmas dinner at my dear friend Ace's house. All co-workers and TV news "orphans" were invited. Amy brought her little dog along and he lifted his leg and peed all over the Christmas tree and presents underneath. Priceless.

2. Kingsley and I invited 10 friends over for a holiday dinner. We put the pies and turkey in the oven and the power went out. After 45 minutes of no power, Kings walked to the store to get wood and matches. He was going to "braai" (grill) the turkey. Thank goodness the power came back on when he got home.

3. One of the first years I shipped presents to my grandparents, I literally sent them in flimsy a "shirt" box. I taped the edges and mailed them off. What was I thinking? They were so destroyed by the time they arrived that some of the presents had fallen out and the rest were sort of duct taped to the remains of the box. Ooops.

4. I was helping my mom bake Christmas goodies in her lovely designer kitchen in Columbus, Ohio. She is very good at everything and I tend to be a bit clumsy, especially around her. I placed walnuts in the small nut chopper device and started going to town on them. I whacked the plunger a couple of good times on the granite counter top and it took a flying leap off onto the floor shattering and scattering walnuts everywhere. After seeing my face crumble, my mom took pity on me and laughed. I bought her a new nut chopper and I always put a towel under it now for traction.

5. While living as a graduate student in student housing in Harrow, UK, I became attached to the resident cat. The Resident Assistants even made a Christmas card with his picture on the front. He was old but gorgeous. Sadly, on Christmas Eve, I went down to share a present with the big guy but he had passed away overnight. The moment was heartbreaking but I'll never forget how much comfort the International students got from that animal. Something loving and warm, so far from home.

6. Our flat in Putney was small but we wanted to have my best friend, Thabang over for dinner, have her spend the night and enjoy presents and Christmas brunch in the morning. We set up the air mattress in the "lounge" for her and it took up all the floor space. Instead of complaining about living in a match box, we all plopped down on the mattress and while it slowly deflated, we opened presents together. It was a special morning, albeit lacking in sophistication.

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