The gift of imperfection this holiday season

I was in the middle of an epic meltdown, so I bellowed: I can’t control anything right now!

This isn’t exactly how I envisioned ending the year, quarantined at home with my family recovering from Covid. But here I am. It’s given me time to do quite a bit of resting (which I guess my body needed) and reflecting (always a favorite of mine). Already this particular holiday was shaping up to be a difficult one for so many people that I care about around me. I was beginning to wonder, how had I managed thus far to remain unscathed through the carnage of 2021. But, as if to remind me of both the impermanence and unpredictability of life, the universe kindly offered me this curveball. And so now here I am, cancelled plans, rearranged life, but at least alive to learn from and tell the story.

I started feeling sick as I was leaving Dallas (a city that has now squarely landed in my bottom 5 worst places). By the time my plane landed in Atlanta, it was all I could do to find my car and drive myself home. I spent most of the next few days with mild symptoms like fatigue, aches, chills, but it wasn’t until Saturday that I figured we should take a test. We ended up testing a few of the girls. London (our six year old) was the only one who tested positive. Everyone else was negative, including my wife who tested negative multiple times (both at home and with a PCR drive through test. Her immune system is amazing!). Nevertheless, sine at least two of us were positive, we treated the whole household the same. We did our due diligence alerting those we’d been in contact with school, work, etc and proceeded to go on lock-down.

London was the first to recover (we barely knew she was sick besides a cough). By the end of the weekend I was joining in dance parties. It sucked to have to cancel plans with friends and family for the past week. We were looking forward to traveling to see family and even enjoying the surprise visit from family that came into town the day we discovered our status. Our plans now were changed, due to circumstances now totally out of our hands. Instead, our routine became sleeping in until 11 or noon (well, the adults), and then curling up by the fire and reading and then watching Christmas movies until 8 or 9 before drifting off to sleep to do it all over again the next day. Turns out, that’s not a terrible routine!

The house though has fallen into various stages of disrepair. Pillow forts have emerged through the hallways, toys cover the floors, and I’m forever now finding cheerios in the cushions. I’m pretty sure the three year old and the six year old have been wearing the same PJs for days… and just moments ago when I yelled “who’s in the kitchen? I could hear London saying, Sloane run!… so who knows what Power and Chaos are getting into. (those are our nicknames for the youngest two, we call the oldest two Wisdom and Love).

But it’s not been all bad. In fact, a unique benefit thus far has been this is probably forced me to do what I wouldn’t have naturally done anyway, which is actually rest. Or, as my grandma likes to say, sit my black ass down somewhere and be still. You can’t control everything. Sometimes it’s a wonderful life, for sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect (nor should it be). Here I was thinking that this holiday season was going to be about being grateful for what calamities we’ve avoided this year, but instead, I’ve been gifted the opportunity to find beauty in pain and imperfection. That message has always been for me a tough one to accept.

It’s been hard for me to reconcile the co-existence of pain, suffering, hope and joy in the world. So I’ve finally stopped trying. Besides, there’s no need. The reality of life is that we’ll all experience life, in its full measure. And if we’re lucky, we learn to embrace all of it, even the things we can’t control. So for this holiday season, for all those battling to come to terms with both the good and the bad in life right now, hang in there.

This is what we do now…all curl up on top of mommy in our PJs. She loves it, even if her face says otherwise lol.

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