Last night I watched A Dog Named Christmas, because I've always thought myself to be a total sucker for sentimental holiday movies, not to mention sentimental movies about dogs. Getting both in one made-for-TV movie was a can't-miss proposition. Or so I thought.
But as I watched the idyllic scenes of the McCray family farm I thought, where are such farms anymore? Family farms are disappearing, and those that remain probably don't support the kinds of lavish Christmas parties that the McCrays were hosting. I looked at the huge spread of food that was being prepared and thought, who has time to do that? And even if they have time, who does it? I stopped baking my favorite cookies--recipes for which have been in my family since 1941!--years ago because they were such artery cloggers.
Then there was the school calendar. Mrs. McCray was a teacher, and her school let out for the holidays around December 15? Who does that? Our local school district goes up through December 23.
And then there was Christmas--the dog, that is. He was portrayed by a 10-year-old canine actor named Johnny (yay for the senior dogs!) but his character was impossibly angelic. The worst thing he did was grab a couple of Christmas cookies. Otherwise, he was a perfect gentleman. Meanwhile, our family has been trying to figure out how to keep Allie from damaging our Christmas tree and pilfering ornaments short of spending $100 or more for an exercise pen to put around the base of the tree like a fence. We haven't put presents under the tree before Christmas Eve for years, because Allie likes to unwrap said gifts ahead of time.
Then there's the dialogue that ensues when we put up our Christmas tree, which we've just finished doing. There are certain ornaments that one person likes that the other two do not, so decorating the tree is as much a matter of hiding ornaments as bringing them out into the open. Each of us--Julie, Stan and I--attempts to supervise the other two. I protest against what I consider to be the "boudoir effect" of certain decorating combinations, such as long strings of beads trailing out of glass bowls much like ladies' jewelry on dressing tables of old (speaking of which, what woman has a dressing table anymore?). My husband laughs at me and my daughter calls me a Scrooge. Similar name-calling ensues when either Stan or Julie expresses a decorating opinion that runs counter to what the other two members of our family think.
No, our Christmas certainly comes nowhere the near the picture perfection of the fictitious McCrays. And yet, right now, I am supremely happy.
Because Christmas isn't about perfection. It's about being who we are and celebrating that. It's about realizing the love that runs beneath the banter. It's about appreciating the fact that a Golden Retriever who wreaks havoc on a Christmas tree whenever she gets the chance will lie at our feet when we're in the living room gazing at that tree, simply because the only thing she wants is to be with us. It's about knowing how lucky we are to be together, the four of us, for yet another holiday.
To me, that is everything. I'll take our real-life Christmas over the McCrays' Hallmark perfection (but then, the show was sponsored by Hallmark, so I guess such perfection is appropriate) any day.
May your holidays be as joyful for you--because they are uniquely yours, imperfections and all.
Best official government photograph ever
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