My kids are so good. Every year, come December, they put up with my alter ego: Crazy Picture Lady. They suffer through about four clothes changes, some in sweaters, some in jammies, some with Santa hats, some without. They sit in front of the tree, on the steps, by the stockings, on a chair, on a stool, kneeling, standing, and sitting in laps. Crazy Picture Lady only comes around once a year, but can stick around for as many as three or four days, depending on how tough it is to get a shot good enough to be deemed "The Christmas Card Photo." One year, I counted and took 281 pictures of my kids to get one useable photo for our family Christmas cards. (This year may have come close to that. Good thing I didn't count!) Thank goodness for digital photography and the "continuous" option on my camera that just keeps the pictures snapping away while I hold down the button to try to get one shot of all three kids looking in the same direction with something resembling smiles on their faces.
As I shuffle through the hundreds of photos on my computer, trying to find the perfect one, I have a great time laughing at some of the rejects. In one, the baby's Santa hat was completely covering her eyes, so all you could see was her little nose and mouth. In another, my younger son had a wide open mouth full of cereal for the world to see. In yet another, my oldest son was holding up his pointer finger in the "I'm #1" pose. I laugh as I see them looking at each other and laughing at their crazy mommy. So I saved a few of the rejects to share this year, just because they're so much fun. In fact, a couple of the rejects are now on my computer desktop because they're my new favorites. They actually show my kids' true personalities. And they reflect the reality that is our family. Far from perfect, but much more fun.
Putting my album of rejects together made me think of all the misfit toys from my favorite Christmas show, the old-school Rankin-Bass production of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer." Those cute little misfits were the rejects of their lot, too. A train with square wheels, a Charlie-in-the-box, a bird fish, and a spotted elephant. All deemed too imperfect to be played with. But they've ended up as stars of the show now. Even Santa recognizes their value in the end.
The Christmas season is filled with so much magic and wonder, but so many of us make ourselves crazy trying to get everything perfect. We want our table to look "just so" for our guests, our house decked to perfection in every room, even our landscape twinkling with perfectly-spaced lights on every tree or bush. Yes, it's a magical time, but I think the misfits and rejects are what make it so magical. Some of my favorite ornaments on my Christmas tree are old and faded and worn. There are threadbare hand-knit ornaments that my grandmother made for my parents' tree, paint-chipped toy soldiers and snowmen that were gifts to me as a kid, and one little bear ball that my Nana had bought the year she passed away. I collect Christmas angels as my favorite decorations and my three favorite angels are each broken or worn in some way. But I take them out of their boxes every year and remember the time, place and person who gave them to me with warmth and fondness. If I could find brand new versions of the same favorite angels, I wouldn't trade them for anything. It's their imperfections that give them character. I suppose I have my own misfit choir of Christmas angels. But I love them.
So I thought I'd send out a misfit version of a Christmas wish for all of you. Instead of wishing that your holiday season be filled with perfection, I actually am wishing that you're able to find the joy in all of the misfits and rejects you encounter. May your wreaths hang a little crooked, your cookies come out a little crumbly, and your Christmas card photos be crazy. I wish for you that all the imperfections of the season bring you nothing but joy and laughter and fodder for future Christmas stories worth retelling.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year!