While I am doing my level best not to be smug about it, but I think I might have turned the corner on this Christmas. I know, I’ve lived this dream enough times to know that as soon as I say something like that, the washing machine explodes, but I really do think it’s going well. The thing is that I have it in my head that this is an "important" Christmas – that this one is somehow significant or more meaningful than the holiday usually is. There’s been a few like this over the years – the first year with a new baby in the family, the first year in a new house, the last year I’ll have the total buy-in of a little child – something that makes me think that it’s especially important to get it right and make new memories, and that they be exactly the right sort of memories. Happy, sane, proper family memories. Memories where, when I bake a hundred gingerbread cookies and announce that we’re going to decorate them all together, just like we always have, the girls will say things like "Oh Mummy, it’s so wonderful to be home and be with the family I love so much, the time you take with our traditions warms my heart" instead of "For s**t’s sake Mum. NOBODY CARES ABOUT THE COOKIES I’M ON THE PHONE."
The lesson I’ve learned about a thousand times is that perfecting things doesn’t perfect people. There’s actually not a huge correlation between them. If I make perfect cookies, the children will not behave perfectly. If I get so-and-so the perfect gift, and wrap it perfectly and give it to them perfectly, there is still no guarantee that they won’t say something breathtakingly bitchy, thus spoiling someone else’s fun who then has a hissy fit in the kitchen because they’re tragically misunderstood by someone who always misunderstands everyone and thank all things woolly that we only have to negotiate our relationship with them a few days a year. Making things perfect (while profoundly tempting for me- especially when I’m feeling pressure to make an "important" Christmas perfect and memorable) actually does almost nothing to help. I’ve spent the last week being really super careful to keep my expectations in check, to remember the humans I share the Christmas with are imperfect, and that I am too. To remember that when I think of all the stuff I like about Christmas, there’s actually not a lot of stuff, and that not once, ever, in all the years that I’ve been worrying about it, not once has any person ever told me Christmas was ruined for them because I didn’t get the right wrapping paper, or because I used the regular napkins instead of the ones with holly on them. NOT ONCE, and frankly, there’s been the same amount of regular family crap no matter what napkins I get out. I’ve even ironed them, and there was still some trouble some years.
I think I’ve turned the corner on this Christmas because I’ve worked it out.
Perfecting things doesn’t perfect people. Even if you have the perfect napkin rings, a really beautiful gift, eighty-seven candles and a fabulous side dish. Give up now. I promise it doesn’t change squat about people’s happiness or ability to get along. Either your Uncle Frank is gong to be a dick like last year, or he’s not, but I swear to my stash that I’ve tried getting the perfect pinecones for the centerpiece to make sure he isn’t a jerk to your best friend…. and it doesn’t work. Go knit instead. You’ll be happier.
Gifts for knitters: Day 12.
Non-knitter, I’m keeping this short and sweet. Your knitter has a problem, because they are a knitter there is an excellent chance that they are small-tool repellant. This means that they likely have trouble putting their hands on tape measures, darning needles and the like, despite having purchased hundreds of same during their lifetime. That means that going to the yarn shop and buying ANYTHING SMALL is a good idea. Stitch markers, tape measures, little scissors, darning needles… anything small. If you want to be posh, get a Knit-kit. (Super cool. I wish I had one.) or one of these neat tool tins from The Sexy Knitter.