Saturday, December 24, 2011


I have finally discovered the secret to giving the perfect gift. At the same time I found the solution to less-than-perfectly-wrapped presents.

Mostly my immediate family doesn’t exchange presents.

For the extended bunch I craft a plethora of similar products, wrap each in tissue and ship the whole thing across country in a $10 box to my mother. She spreads them out on the sofa and everyone chooses what they like. If they don’t like, they don’t choose. The expectations and hurt feelings that have accompanied giving and receiving in the past don’t appear. Furthermore, I’m not there.

Seeking perfection is like living a delusion. Significant people materialize only in our minds and their past criticisms sound deep into our subconscious. The noises drown out reason. I have it in my power to cut the tow lines and think gracious, self-enriching thoughts. I can choose to watch HGTV artists produce seemingly perfect beauty, and smile contentedly at the simple plastic, red apples I got free years ago.

If I choose the delusion I need to ask myself what I am getting out of it. And what I am missing.

There is a result of continually expecting perfection: Guilt. A recovering alcoholic friend was fond of saying Guilt is the gift that keeps on giving.

Forgiveness, first of myself and then of others, teases out of my experience anger, impatience, and lies that were never true. Once in the light of day they can be replaced and dumped. The best gifts to give are Forgiveness and Grace, beautiful kindnesses that accept reality but are never defeated by it.

Forgiveness is always a challenge, but especially at Christmas (or Hannukah). If I don’t find forgiveness in my stash of gifts, I will pack a load of guilt onto my sleigh. The sleigh will pick up speed and run me over. ("Grandma got run over by a reindeer....")

May you be blessed in your beginnings. 

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