I remember going to the Fair with my first boyfriend, Ben. His mom was in Eastern Star and they always worked at the food concessions at the Fair. Ben and I would go and wander around and ride some of the rides and play games. My favorite was ALWAYS the claw game. It had such wonderful prizes that were right in front of you and if you had a steady hand, good aim, and held your mouth just right it could be YOURS for 25 cents! Sure there where other games with bigger prizes…giant teddy bears the size of my car, foam rubber cowboy hats that would fit the Jolly Green Giant, but it was that perfect little box with the ring that sparkled that called to me from the inside of the claw machine…there it sat right in the middle of black aquarium rocks looking oh so very attainable!
I have been thinking about that claw machine a lot as I have been preparing for Christmas this year. See, things are changing quickly for my family. We have one child who has moved out, one that is a junior in High School and has a job and the baby, well she isn’t a baby anymore! We are having to shift Christmas around work schedules and friends and church demands and my hopes of ever having a perfect Christmas are slipping away just like that box always did when I thought I had a grip on it in that Claw Machine. Now I DID get close a time or two when they were little! I would get the lights on the house, the tree up and decorated right after Thanksgiving, the gifts bought, wrapped and hidden before the middle of December but then the Christmas cards wouldn’t go out and the homemade cookies, candy and pies wouldn’t get made. There where also the years that we didn’t even come close, like when Julia brought home Chicken Pox and they ALL had them by Christmas Eve…my parents put our presents on the front porch and yelled “Merry Christmas” through the window (they were afraid of getting shingles!). This year Christmas came on December 22nd! And it was NOT the perfect Christmas either! Hubby had to go to a meeting, my Dad was on crutches because his knees need replacing, lunch was served in shifts and my tummy felt like it was on an ocean liner!! But there where hugs and laughs and gifts and smiles, games and talks and fun and love.
And do you know what I discovered because of our not so perfect Christmas? I learned that if I had wasted the time we had together trying to make it perfect I would have ended up just as frustrated and empty handed as I was trying to get that perfect little box out of the claw machine. You see, everyone who has ever played it knows that you never get that perfect shiny ring because you will never have a strong enough grip with the claw. The perfect Christmas always looks so shiny and attainable on TV, in Ads and in our imaginations but if we are not careful the REAL Christmas will slip out of our grip while we try time and time again for the perfect one! So, enjoy what comes, appreciate what does get done and make memories that last in your heart because they shine perfectly in your memory as time goes by!