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Having a ‘good enough’ Christmas

This column was originally printed on Dec. 7, 2009

Finding just the right gifts at Christmas time can be a daunting task.

Author Oren Arnold has made his own list of recommended gifts: “To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.”

One year ago about this time, I wrote a column about the gift of “good enough.” I still think it’s about the best gift we can give, or receive, at Christmas.

The “good enough” gift is just the right size, just the right color, just the right price for everyone on your list.

The “good enough” gift isn’t wrapped in a box with a bow. It’s placed on an open palm and distributed well before Dec. 24.

Though it’s sometimes hard to explain, the “good enough” gift can be described as a pinch of freedom and a pound of acceptance. The “good enough” gift allows our best efforts, and those of our friends and loved ones, to be less than perfect.

I’m a big fan of “good enough” gifts, even “good enough” living.

I sometimes think we are our own worst enemies. It seems we put such pressure on ourselves, especially at Christmas time, to get everything just right, from our Christmas trees to our cookies to our gifts.

I have learned in my old age that Christmas trees can have bare spots, that round sugar cookies taste just as good as those shaped like reindeer, and that adjustments can be made to our Christmas gift lists.

It’s not that I don’t like to do my best. I do. I try really hard to make things as nice as possible. But there seems to come a point in which I realize I’m only going to be able to do so much. My time, my money and my energy can only be stretched so far. And that’s where the gift of “good enough” comes into focus for me.

For us as an extended family, Christmas will be a bit lonely this year. My mother-in-law, the much loved and respected matriarch of our family, passed away a few weeks ago. We’re not quite sure how to compensate for that loss, or if that is even a possibility. Sometimes, there can be a touch of coldness to our holidays.

I guess we all face times in our lives when the “good enough” gift is needed more than in other years. There are the years when finances are almost non-existent for extras. There are years when too much time is spent in hospitals and at grave sites. There are years when worries always seem perched heavily on our shoulders.

Maybe this year, more than ever before, we should be giving to others the “good enough” gift, and letting ourselves receive it as well.

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