The Sideways Christmas Present
In early December, we visited a tropical-themed restaurant on the beautiful island of Kauai. While waiting for our table, we took a seat next to a Christmas tree and a strategically arranged tower of presents wrapped in brightly-colored wrapping paper. Festive images of Santa Clauses, snowmen, snowflakes, penguins, and cheery messages of Merry Christmas and HoHoHo adorned each carefully wrapped. box. No topsy-turvy Santas, reclining snowmen, or upside-down Merry Christmas greetings could be found—except for one irritating misfit—the penguin package.
Perched at the top of the stack of presents, it lay on its side, oblivious to the chaotic jumble of penguins tumbling all over the paper sideways. Seventeen packages toeing the line and only one errant package gone astray. I almost reached into the display and set the box right side up.
I was saved by the hostess who came to seat us, and we proceeded with a delicious dinner of local fish and dessert (of course!) while enjoying the lush landscape and Hawaiian music. But I hadn’t forgotten the penguin package. And the more I thought about it, the more I realized how much that cattywampus present symbolized our pursuit of the perfect Christmas.
For some reason, we have a tendency to think: This year, Christmas will be different. We’ll spread holiday cheer without being stressed out, everyone in our family will get along, and we’ll be filled with enough Christmas Spirit to put a Hallmark movie to shame. The odds of bringing to pass such a holiday miracle are slim, but maybe you still believe you can have a perfect Christmas. If so, I truly hope you accomplish your goal.
The message of this blog post changed a bit since I started writing it. One thing I love about writing is how much I learn during the process. Writing helps me discover what I really think. This post began as a caution against trying to create the perfect Christmas. And I’m guessing most of you would agree, a perfect Christmas is not a realistic goal. But something else struggled to the surface as the words fell onto the page.
What is it that makes the holidays so stressful? Most Christmas trauma comes down to human behavior. As I’m sure you’ve figured out, people are going to do what they’re going to do. We can’t just turn them right side up when they’re sideways and expect them to toe the line. It’s okay to encourage kindness and charitable behavior, but ultimately, each individual is responsible for his or her own actions. The hard truth is, it’s not our job to fix them. All we can do is try to be patient and forgiving.
May you have a Joyful and Peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year!