Dash of Sass: The Most Imperfect Moments Make the Most Beautiful Memories

Quote of the Day:

I admit it’s tempting to wish for the perfect boss, the perfect parent, or the perfect outfit. But maybe the best any of us can do is not quit, play the hand we’ve been dealt, and accessorize what we’ve got.
~Sex & the City

The Single Woman Says:

When I was growing up, my dad was a bit like Chevy Chase in National Lampoon in that he always wanted to plan these picture-perfect moments. For example, one Christmas he decided we were going to go tromping off into the woods to cut down our own Christmas tree. I think in his mind he saw a Normal Rockwell painting playing out, but what really happened bore a much stronger resemblance to the Family Circus. My sister and I were freezing, our toes numb from the cold, our faces frozen to the point of barely being able to speak, and what words we did manage to get out were words of complaint. We whined and moaned and voiced our displeasure through chattering teeth, until my dad finally gave up. I think we wound up buying a store-bought plastic tree that year. My sister and I were young and inexperienced in the ways of life and couldn’t see past the present misery of the moment to the memory we were making.

The irony of the situation is that I inherited my dad’s National Lampoon ways. I have this grandiose, fanciful idea of how experiences should go, and of course they manage to always fall short. No matter how bad we want it to be, life isn’t a movie and rarely plays out like one. Art imitates life, not the other way around. Vacations, holidays, graduations, any big life milestone or family activity to me is a chance, however, to finally have that “movie moment” I can picture so clearly in my mind. The problem with reality, though, is that my family has a knack for attracting the most bizarre, ridiculous, comedic circumstances in almost everything we do. For example, last summer I was lounging peacefully on the beach on our family vacation to Myrtle Beach when I decided to call my mom in the room to see what time dinner was. Instead of a hello, I got an “I can’t talk, the room’s on fire!” screeched urgently from the other end of the line, before she clicked down the phone in my face. In a panic, I grabbed my towel and rushed up the room, passing several firemen as they lumbered down the hall to our room. As it turned out, it was actually the room next door to ours that caught on fire, but it was so intense, it caused our room to fill completely with smoke. The problem with all of this was that my dad was in the shower during the whole thing and being my dad, refused to exit the room until he completed his shower. This prompted a fireman to stick his head into the bathroom and order my dad out of the shower. Which, needless to say, did not make my dad happy to peek his head out of his relaxing shower on his supposed “relaxing” vacation to see my mom frantically grabbing laptops and hurtling herself out of the condo and a strange fireman standing right outside the shower door eyeing him down with all the seriousness of the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace.

Once again – the Family Circus.

These stories are only the tip of the iceberg with my family. There’s also the time we were touring the White House back in Daddy Bush’s days and my mom made a flippant remark about how “I could just kill the president when he interrupts my soap operas with a special report!” and the entire Secret Service started to move in on her until my dad leapt between them and proclaimed her innocence. My mom obviously didn’t mean her comment LITERALLY, she was just being southern with our over-exaggerating ways of getting a point across…however, to stand in the White House press room and make such a statement tends to ruffle a few Secret Service feathers. I just thank God it was pre-911 days. Otherwise my mom would probably still be in shackles in military prison right now.

But….BUT….when retelling these stories amongst ourselves the other night at our Mother’s Day dinner, my family and I couldn’t control our giggling. That’s the beautiful thing about the missteps and the stumbles and the GIANT snafus of the past…they bring BIG laughter and joy in the present. We were literally all in tears as we recounted our many ridiculous attempts at a “perfect” vacation and how they all managed to go horribly awry. But then it occurred to me that maybe there’s something even better than the perfect moment. The IMPERFECT moment. When you were little, wasn’t the crooked hand-made mug with the chips and cracks better than any fancy coffee mug you could buy your mom at the store? Didn’t she value that one just a little bit more? Maybe had all of our vacations and other family ventures gone off without a hitch, we wouldn’t still be talking about them all these years later. Maybe instead of creating a Norman Rockwell painting of perfection, we created a beautifully messy finger-painting of LIFE.

And maybe that’s what it’s really all about, after all. Realizing that in the end, it doesn’t take movie moments to make beautiful memories. The real magic is in the unexpected moments, the surprising moments, the scary moments, the embarrassing moments, the messy moments, the ridiculous moments, the imperfect moments.

That’s where LIFE happens. And life itself is the most beautiful work of art.


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