There's a big black hole in the middle of my Christmas tree. Now, I'm not too bad when it comes to lights--I always check the bulbs before I string them and I rarely make that rookie mistake of winding them the wrong way ending up with nothing to plug into the outlet. This year's light stringing went without a hitch and the tree looked great...until Thursday.
"What happened to the tree?" Katherine asks. What happened indeed. Apparently one string went out. Of course, it was the string right in the middle of the tree. Have you ever tried to unwind a light string from an already decorated tree? Neither have I. And I'm not about to start now.
As long as I'm pointing out imperfections, the stockings are not hung by my chimney with care. I affixed them with push pins. I did a really lousy job hiding Paul's Christmas gift and he found it immediately. I hid it under a blanket on our bed. Then I forgot and asked him to make the beds. Whoops.
We're having company in about two hours and I haven't started cooking dinner yet. The floor won't be mopped and I scratched the idea of homemade dessert long ago in favor of store-bought pie. So, it won't be perfect, but that's OK. I think about Mary's plan for the birth of Jesus. I'm pretty sure her Lamaze coach, the mid-wife and the doula would not have recommended the cramped, smelly, unsanitary manger as their top choice for the big event. Yet, even in less than ideal circumstances, Mary gave birth to a perfect baby.
I recently read an article from the NY Times called The Island Where People Forget to Die. On Ikaria, people get lots of fresh air and exercise. They eat healthy diets. They take naps. All healthy habits that are a part of a healthy lifestyle, yet the researchers speculate these habits are not as important as we might think. "Yet in Ikaria and the other places like it, diet only partly explained higher life expectancy. Exercise — at least the way we think of it, as willful, dutiful, physical activity — played a small role at best."
So if not diet and exercise, what? The social culture of the island. Friends. Family. Community. A place where people don't strive for perfection, they strive for passion. Tonight our tree may have some dark spots but our home will be full of the light and laughter of good friends. And that sounds just perfect to me.