At this busy time of year I think it is important to remember that it is not perfection that makes lasting memories, but mistakes. Some of my family's most cherished holiday memories are built on the "oops, that's not exactly how I had planned it." So if you're suffering from the pressure to get everything done right and on time, relax, kick back and stop trying to make everything perfect. No one remembers perfect!
For instance . . .
One of my family's most talked about holiday memories is the time my dad decided to surprise us and bring home a fresh cut Christmas tree. I know, sounds innocent enough. My dad had picked out what he thought was the perfect tree. Only it was planted firmly in the median of US1 between Jacksonville and St. Augustine, his daily route to and from work.
"Oh my god!" I hear my mother exclaim as a commotion ensues outside the back door one December evening after dark. There's Dad standing there, his clothes a mess, scrapes on his hands and arms, with a great big grin on his face, dragging a scraggly green tree with broken limbs covered in dirt. "What have you done!" exclaims Mom.
Dad proudly states "I got us a Christmas tree" as he pushes past mom dragging the sad little tree inside the house leaving a trail of dirt and branches in his wake. My sister and I scamper around excitedly, happily taking directions from Dad in helping him set the tree up in the living room.
For weeks Dad had his eye on this little tree as he passed it each day on his ride to work. One day he takes along his ax and some rope and, on his way home, he pulls his old blue station wagon off the side of the road. He grabs his ax and rope, sprints across two lanes of oncoming traffic on US1 in the dark and proceeds to "steal" the perfect Christmas tree. The tree comes down easily as it is not as big up close as it looked from the road when he was zooming by at 70 mph. And here's where it gets a little tricky. Now he has to drag the tree back across two lanes of oncoming traffic in the dark. Mind you, it is rush hour.
He sees a break and goes for it. Only as he runs across the road, he trips and falls on top of the tree in the middle of US1. Miraculously he makes it across and manages to wrestle the tree into the station wagon and deliver it home, proudly to his family.
"You could have been killed!" my mother says with a horrified look on her face as Dad sets up this half-crushed tree in our living room. "It's got a bird's nest in it."
"Cool! Let me see! Where is it!" My sister and I exclaim as we dance excitedly around the dirty broken tree.
It was the "Charlie Brown Christmas Tree" come to life in our living room. It was pathetic. But it is the tree I remember most from all Christmases of my youth.