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My 2013 December has become the most real holiday I think I have ever known, and I realized it last night…

I think it all started when I signed up to help with the Christmas party for my second grader’s class. Then it took an evil turn when I decided that a craft involving Pinterest, tile, white paint, and a second grader’s hand would be a good idea…

What ensued was a night of baking “five different shades of ugly” Christmas cookies for a cookie swap, whilst doing handprints with the second grader that Saruman would be proud of… That was a Lord of the Rings reference, by the way.

The day before the second grade Christmas party began by going on a walk with a neighbor/friend. We chatted as we walked around our ‘hood discussing how to sell her house. She has survived breast cancer and as I left her to go about my errands, I realized that I have become the kind of friend that she doesn’t put on her prosthetic boob for, and that is nice. She doesn’t have to be anybody but her one-breast-self with me–what a wonderful gift.

That thought propelled me through my errand-filled morning and then I forgot about it until I went into a craft store and bought a ginormous red, velvet bow. My neighbor/friend and I decided that since our other neighbor is renovating and put a port-a-potty in the front yard, we’d decorate it. Not out of spite but out of holiday spirit, mind you.

As I left the craft store, I realized I was running late to do the white Saruman handprints with the second grade class, a day before the Christmas party so they’ll dry in time to be decorated, and I started to freak out. I had all of the supplies that the other two moms were waiting for. I imagined the Eye of Saruman scoping me out in my silver Freestyle on the highway beelining it to school.

So what did I do? I stopped for a grande Americano and used my Groupon. I drove the longish way to let out some of the crazy before I painted some seven and eight year olds’ hands to make these memorable tiles. That, people, is what I did. And I laughed at myself. There was some head shaking, too. I completely embraced my lateness. I completely embraced how much I thought I should care about the appearance of perfection. I completely embraced how much I didn’t give a poo about the all of it. None of it matters–not in a depressed way–but in a real way. We have food, shelter, the ability to give one another Christmas gifts, and here I am stressing out of my mind about getting my soccer-mom-self to school to do handprints so they’ll dry in time for us to do our craft the following day. That is what is so funny. The perfectness that I thought I had to achieve is just a vapor, and I can laugh-accept that in the presence of Saruman’s white handprint on a tile.

So, tonight I am going to take the “ugliest Christmas cookies” that taste divine to a Christmas cookie swap, and I am going to hang out with some other moms who get mediocrity. I am going to laugh, eat cookies, sip some wine, and I am going to revel in the joy of it all.

Then tomorrow, I am going to get up, go to school, hang out with a bunch of second graders, eat some snowpeople string cheese, color some Christmas pictures, do some silly games, help them transform their Saruman hands into snow men and women, and I am going to love it all. I am going to soak up the goodness of warmth, smiles, laughs, and hot cocoa. That is what I am going to do. And none of it is going to be perfect and none of it is going on Pinterest. I am going to smile every time I drive by the neighborhood port-a-potty decorated with a red bow. I am going to soak up every walk I have with my neighbor/friend while we are still neighbors. And I am going to appreciate how wacky this holiday season has turned out to be because it is real and it is a living reminder that perfection doesn’t belong anywhere.

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas.