We are well into the holiday season. How's everyone holding up so far? I ask this because I know that Christmas can cause people's cheese to slide off their cracker, as the saying goes. Why? Some suffer loneliness and broken family relations, but many suffer from something far more treatable -- holiday perfectionism.
The funniest example of holiday perfectionism is found in the character of Clark Griswold from "Christmas Vacation."
Clark is a nice man with a normal family, but he suffers from perfectionism. Every movie in this series features Clark trying to give his family something wonderful, but it always goes awry.
In "Christmas Vacation," Clark's idea is to give his family the ultimate gift (a swimming pool) and the perfect family Christmas. That launches a series of misadventures as he tries to make his imperfect family and messy life fit his idea of perfection.
Hilarious on film; not so funny in real life. Parents stress over getting their children the perfect gifts. They often go into debt for these gifts, and then get angry at their kids the rest of the year for being materialistic.
They want the Norman Rockwell painting, forgetting that Norman was probably painting his dreams, not his experience.
Reality is, we live in a broken world full of flawed people. So, guess what? Perfection will always elude us. Besides, Christmas isn't about us anyway!
There has been only one perfect gift given in this world, and it came from God Himself.
It was His Son, Jesus. That's the point of the holiday -- the perfect gift from God, given to this imperfect world.
He was born in a smelly stable and placed in a feeding trough for barnyard animals. That didn't bother Jesus because the perfect one was not a perfectionist. I find that very strange, but He absolutely was not.
Brennan Manning wrote that Jesus loves us as we are, not as we should be because, chances are, we will never be as we should be.
The book of Ephesians says God loves us to wholeness. But the truth is that on this side of Heaven, we are always going to be a little off -- imperfect people in a fallen world.
So, this Christmas, give yourself the gift of lightening up! Quit spoiling your kids so much that you don't like them the rest of the year. We came from the generation of apples, not iPhones, in our stockings, and we were better for it.
If you want to give someone the perfect gift, tell him about Jesus, because He was, and always will be, the only perfect gift this broken world has ever known!
• Cris Corzine-McCloskey is director of Caring Counseling Ministries in Marion, which provides counseling from a Biblical perspective; (618) 997-2129.