Maybe it's picture prints by Currier and Ives. Maybe it's my grandmother's melt-in-your-mouth pound cake that was part of the menu every year. I have the recipe for it, but I'll never bake for fear it won't live up to hers. Maybe it's all those rose-colored memories of childhood Christmases past. I don't know.
I don't know where the pressure for a perfect Christmas comes from. But I know it didn't come from the first Christmas, because that one was anything but perfect.
A young virgin and her fiancé birthed the messiah while they were on a trip, a travel nightmare. Stranded, they made due with a ragged manger cushioned by hay from the stable floor while smelly cattle lowed in protest of the disturbance in their otherwise peaceful night.
There was an extra mule in there too, the one that carried their suitcase. And Mary may have had to lean against the mule's side for leverage and steadying. Surely there was a lot of improvising that night.
In fact, the night's events were so far below the standard of perfection that angels had to announced the imperfect birth lest we miss it. The glow the heavenly host cast over an unidentified field of poor shepherds wasn't meant to spotlight our imperfections and, thus, cause us to despair. The angel's tidings were glad. His news was good because we were already imperfect and in despair.
He didn't come to point out the imperfect; He came to perfect us. I fear we have it backwards.
We think we're pretty okay all year, and then, when its time to celebrate Christmas, we can't seem to pull off perfect. We stress and get depressed. If it were the other way around and we saw ourselves as less than perfect, we'd rejoice, just as the angels suggested.
So enjoy this Christmas, whatever it looks like for you this year. You don't have to live up to perfect.
In fact, expect the imperfect, because that's the real reason for the season.
Sharing this post in community with Emily at Imperfect Prose and Jennifer's God-Bumps.
Unwrapping imperfect with Emily at Chatting with the Sky.