I have a magazine addiction; I may as well just go ahead and admit it right here and right now. The addiction is worse around Thanksgiving and Christmas when all those specialty holiday editions appear on the racks. I’m sure you know the ones I’m talking about…they are NOT included with your regular subscription, and they cost somewhere in the range of $9.99-$12.99 or more. They are not only expensive but also absolutely jam packed with the most wonderful Christmas home decor pictures, table settings, and mouth-watering recipes. When I start thumbing through them I suddenly become weak and powerless and have to buy them. All through the year I try to save a little money for Christmas, and I’m guessing that in January 2016 I might need to start a special “magazine fund” so I can afford next year’s editions. I have a special bookcase shelf reserved for Christmas magazines, and space is beginning to be limited. My idea of a “perfect leisure moment” is to curl up on the sofa and look through my Christmas magazines to get ideas for my own perfect Christmas.
But my Christmases never seem to turn out like the ones in the magazines–how could they? Those magazines are PERFECT while my life isn’t. I can only imagine how many hours must be involved in arranging and rearranging rooms for a photo shoot—how many pictures are made and then poured over before editors pick the “perfect” shot for the issue…and even that perfect shot may need some airbrushing! I spent many Christmases as a perfectionist, feeling a twinge of disappointment because my ideas and plans did not reflect that perfect magazine picture. And then one Christmas Eve I attended a Catholic Midnight Mass (not normal procedure for this Southern Baptist lassie). The service was beautiful and meaningful, and as I departed and headed for the parking lot at 1:00 AM, I happened to look up and was stopped in my tracks by the night sky. The air was cold and crisp with no wind, and despite the surrounding city lights, the stars were so magnificent and bright that I felt as if I could reach up and touch them…a truly breathtaking moment. I realized that it was already Christmas Day and silently thanked the Heavenly Father for such a perfect night. And God seemed to lean down and whisper in my ear, “Yes, it is perfect…just like it was on that night in Bethlehem.” All the way home I thought about Mary and Joseph and how that night probably didn’t feel perfect to them. After all, Mary was young and about to deliver her first child…and she most likely had “pictured” that happening in her hometown where she would be surrounded by her mother and midwives that were not strangers to her. And now, here she was in labor and giving birth in a smelly cattle stall, of all places! Eventually, Mary and Joseph would have to take that baby and flee to a foreign country (Egypt) to escape the edict of an evil king (Matthew 2:13-16) thus forcing them even farther from their homeland and family. In my feeble mind, this certainly didn’t appear “perfect” — it didn’t fit the picture of having your baby in your hometown with family close by to help with all those “first baby” nerves, fears, and uncertainty. And yet…it really was perfect. It was God’s perfect timing, God’s perfect plan, and God’s perfect Son. You see, it didn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.
Even though Christmas at my house this year will not be anything even remotely resembling ones in the holiday magazines, it will still be perfect. I hope yours is, too.
NOTE: I wish I could claim credit for the phrase “it doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful” but that phrase comes from blogger, Myquillyn Smith, at www.thenester.com. Through her blog I have learned to not be such a perfectionist in my home decor—which is why I recently gritted my teeth and battled every perfectionist grain in my being and purchased a graceful, glass vase with a tiny chip on the footed base. My thrift store purchase now sits on a high shelf where the chip isn’t even visible….it’s perfect, and it’s beautiful.
(c) Leslie Kelley 2015
photo courtesy of HGTV.com/Christmas at the White House 2009