Wednesday was my 34th birthday. I’ve always loved having a December birthday. The entire world feels like it’s in the mood to celebrate. And that’s exactly what we’ve been doing this month! Steve on the 12th. Me on the 16th. And the babies will be on the 23rd (though we already had a bash for them on the 12th). Jesus on the 25th. It’s a holy month.

(This list doesn’t include the other December standouts in our lives: Dad Bill. Nephew Fynn. Nephew Jackson. Friend Tina.) I’m meeeelting.

On this day last year, I was still very great with child(ren), and I was starting to feel like I wouldn’t be able to walk much longer. I felt pressure, exhaustion, uncertainty, and this looming sense that a great number of things were going to have to fall through the cracks in order for us to survive. This year, I feel the same way. It’s not a hopeless feeling. Just more of a “so be it” kind of thing. My life lately is a constant reminder that things are not going to turn out perfectly, and if I wait for the time and space to achieve perfection, I will never send out a Christmas card, I will never create a photobook, I will never get my Christmas shopping done, I will never speak at another event, and I will lose my mind. I’m trying really hard not to do that last little thing.

Every day, I have to say to myself at least a couple times, “It doesn’t have to be perfect.” Those are hard words for me. Maybe for you, too.

Here’s the trick . . . When I am dying, the very best thing I can do for myself is something creative. Literally, I just put everything else down and choose to create something instead of totally losing myself to the incessant, mind-numbing productivity that can become life this time of year (and any other, if we’re honest). But I have to keep telling myself that the trick is in the creating, not in the creating of something perfect. I keep having to learn that lesson over and over.

So I sit down and wrap a present beautifully and extravagantly with way too much ribbon and this amazing burlap garland I got at Michaels (that I’m literally covering everything with) and I attach one of these cool manila mailing labels that I’m equally obsessed with and, of course, I throw in a bit of twine. All of a sudden I feel slightly better. The perfectionism begins to get crowded out as I become occupied with this love of the mess that is making something new.

This year, I’m determined to create a found poem using words from Scripture and all the amazing carols. I feel like this will be an exercise in creative worship, something my soul could use. You should write one too. Just take lines, phrases, words — anything — and mash ’em together to make something new and unique. If you do one, post it, so we can all read your imperfect perfection!

Take a moment to bake, write, sew, wrap, arrange, photograph, paint, print, glue, plant, whisk, or decorate. Necessity, not luxury. Creativity, not perfection. I promise your heart will start beating again.

(For a word of inspiration, read chapter 8 from Found Art, “Gathering.”)

Love upon love.

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