This past Christmas day brought me an unexpected gift. My little family and I enjoyed a nice dinner together in our rarely-used dining room. We even used the china and the crystal. But as I looked around me, I noticed how imperfect everything was…
While the tablecloth was washed and pressed, it was also stained with the cranberry sauce we enjoyed at Thanksgiving.
The table seemed empty, because I forgot to buy the flowers for the centerpiece.
The children sat on towels, in order to protect the chair fabrics from drops and spills.
And there, straight in front of me on the wall, a small mirror hung with a chair directly beneath it. And on that mirror was an Ella-sized handprint.
It reminded me of a time, six or seven years ago, when I was a mother to two toddlers and a large, slobbery chocolate lab, Coco. I once had a guest in my home–someone that I always felt a little inadequate around. Someone that I always felt I needed to be “perfect” around.
I had forgotten to clean the windows in the living room. And they were covered in the handprints of two young children and the nose-marks of the aforementioned slobbery beast we adored.
This guest of mine made certain to let me know that the dirty windows had not gone unnoticed.
How embarassed I felt at the time. That my windows didn’t shine. How ashamed I was at my imperfection.
So on Christmas day this year, when I noticed that handprint on the mirror I smiled, because I realized how deeply my perspective has changed. I felt not shame or embarassment, but happiness. I imagined Ella thrusting her pudgy little leg up on that chair, and pulling herself up onto it. And then placing her chubby, sticky, little hand on that mirror.
And I remembered with how much zeal William ate the cranberry sauce at Thanksgiving. How much he enjoyed the entire meal that day. And how I cooked for seven hours and our Thanksgiving dinner lasted about 15 minutes.
And thank goodness there were towels on the chairs, because Henry spilled his drink, and I didn’t even care (too much).
I still wish I had remembered the flowers for the table…
That little handprint, well, it was one of the most beautiful gifts I have received in quite some time.
Because I learned something from it. I have a profound understanding now that perfection is not all it’s cracked up to be.