Standing back to admire and enjoy the lovely decorations I’d put up in our home for Christmas 2020, I noticed that the table runner on the long table in our family room was extremely uneven. One side dangled nearly to the floor, while the other side barely hung over the table.
On top of this wayward table runner was an elaborate display consisting of pinecones, cute ornaments, a small glass Christmas tree, and a dancing Santa who boogied to “Jingle Bell Rock” when his start button was pushed. (My three girls pushed this often.) Two long strings of shiny beads, placed precariously around the outer edges of the table runner, completed the festivities.
It had been a lot of creative fun placing everything just so on the table, but I did not want to remove it all, adjust the runner and do it again. So, the funkily-placed runner just lay there mocking me, “Hey, Little Miss Perfectionist, congratulations on the FANTASTIC job you did of placing me on my table! A little too jolly with the wine while decorating?”
As I’d had no wine at all while decorating, I knew this was a ludicrous taunt. However, the intent behind the query still stung. How could I have allowed this quite rude table runner to be placed so negligently in my very own home? Mr. Table Runner was quite correct in his keen assessment of me as a perfectionist – well, as long as you don’t count how tidy and clean the house is… or isn’t.
With three teenagers, I long ago waved the white flag for that battle. Technically, I waved the grey flag; I can’t keep anything snowy white anymore. So, while my kids have steadily chipped away at my perfectionism for years, COVID-19 dealt it the final blow. Our family vacation in 2020 was to the delightful island nation of Hobby Lobby, with special add-on shore excursions to Walmart and Dollar Tree. To be fair, we did spend a good bit of time at the lake…the tiny, man-made one in our subdivision, which we walked around frequently for exercise and to keep some sanity.
My husband lost his job due to the pandemic, thus freeing him up for a couple of months of luxury home-spa relaxing. Well, I guess it could have been relaxing if not for the constant networking, job searching, and extremely expensive COBRA health insurance payments. (Thankfully, he did find a new job that he enjoys even more than his previous one.)
Our kitchen nook was turned into a ceramics workshop thanks to virtual school. Our daughter’s teacher informed her that working with ceramics is not advised in small closed spaces like bedrooms, due to the possibility of breathing invisible toxic particles of silica dust. Apparently, it’s much better to share that noxious dust with the entire family.
Two of our three girls succumbed to Netflix and Hulu’s siren songs, with a corresponding drop in GPA. One girl blamed us, the parents, and claimed that her grades would dramatically improve when we let her return to in-person school. (She did return to campus for the last three months of the school year. Alas, the wondrous improvement in her grades never materialized.)
Like everyone in the pandemic, we were forced to spend an inordinate amount of time at home with only immediate family, to stop going most places we love, and to basically just survive in a weird limbo, learning to negotiate cramped quarters and trampled-on emotions. It made me realize that perfection is grossly overrated.
I even learned to appreciate the freakishly weird aspects of my fellow family members, as they did with me. Peaceful coexistence, progress, kindness, and good health have replaced my former goal of perfection. I know now without a shadow of a doubt that nothing will ever be perfect, and that’s OK. If things are running even moderately smoothly, that’s a major win.
So, take that my dear Mr. Table Runner! I’m not listening to any more of your jeers. You were just fine the way you were in 2020. Perhaps I’ll even place you in exactly the same goofy, lopsided position again this Christmas. Then again…Nah!