Strangely enough today started off really well. I woke up ready to finish up some wrapping that needed to be done to get last minute packages in the mail. I was feeling pretty good about all the holiday preparations. I had gotten the house decorated, at least as decorated as it needed to be, early enough to schedule three small gatherings with friends. I had had time to make some of my favorite recipes and then to enjoy those events with people I really love, even if family meals were rather strange on those days. Yesterday some last minute shopping both on line and in person had finally filled in some blank spots on my gift list, and I had the whole day today to wrap and tidy up before going to hear three of my grandsons in their Christmas program tonight, one of my absolute favorite events every Christmas season.
I wrapped away and got my husband to scour the attic for boxes for mailing, and then printed out address labels which I’d been wise enough to store on my computer through the years. I was feeling pretty good about myself.
Then the Grinch crept into the breakfast room. “You know you should print these with a bold font to make it easier to read.”
“And if you wouldn’t skip a line between each line on the address, I’d only need one piece of tape to stick them on the package.”
Just two sentences, and then I lost it. “So what if it takes two pieces of tape!!!! I’m sick of you finding fault with me!”
As I noted in an entry a while back, I discovered that I wasn’t perfect way back in 1948 when the photo of the Christmas pageant arrived and I realized that my hands were crooked. (See picture below.) This alarming fact distressed me mightily then, and actually I got some pretty severe corrections to my imperfections throughout my life. My hair wasn’t curly like Shirley Temples, so I endured Tonettes to fix that problem, beginning at age two. I made some “B’s” on my report card, and actually some “U’s” (in conduct…always my most difficult subject!) One of those was in Kindergarten, and the note said that it was because I sat on my foot instead of with both feet on the floor like a proper child. It wasn’t until I was in second grade and Mrs. Williams noticed that my feet didn’t TOUCH the floor and made a cigar box to go under my desk that that little problem got fixed.
A lot of my imperfections never got fixed. I always had so much to say that I couldn’t wait my turn. I was more prone to go off alone and read a book than to socialize with playmates at times. I didn’t have a “sweet disposition”….something highly prized by the adults in my world. I just couldn’t do too much about that…I spoke out when I shouldn’t about things I had opinions about. I still do, and it annoys some people, and often embarrasses my family and sometimes even me.
After seventy years, I’ve pretty well made peace with my imperfection. I’m so sorry when I say something that I shouldn’t and causes someone pain…I truly never mean to be cruel…I just have an innate inability to lie very well. But other than that, I’m okay with my imperfections. In general I think imperfect things are a bit more interesting. I like the Impressionists way better than painters whose works look more like a photo. I like designers who do unlikely combinations….I finally kind of like ME!
So why do I still react to the people in my life who are trying to fix my imperfections? I’m not exactly sure. I know from some of my studies that their comments are usually perceived immediately as criticism, and not the helpful kind. Their comments seem to me to ignore all the things I’ve actually done right, and zero in on the ones I’ve missed. I feel like I should be able to say to myself, “So what?” and just move on. And most of the time I do, but today I didn’t. Today I had done so many things right that going back and correcting the one or two I hadn’t was just too much.
I’ll calm down by this evening and I’ll be swept away by the sound of several hundred little boys singing Christmas Carols. I'll probably apologize for my outburst. Tomorrow will be a better day. I’d be willing to bet I won’t be perfect tomorrow either, but I'll be pretty good, and that's okay with me. To my knowledge the only perfect human was born in a stable a long time ago, and even he got cranky once or twice.