I sent my sister a text before the holiday started. 'Let's just aim for an above average Christmas.'
The world of ballet revolves around precision and perfection: the line of the foot, the quality of the turn out, the position of the arms. I've been experiencing fatigue of perfection. Witnessing a world in which everyone - regardless of age or gender - is so immaculate and well turned out has been taking its toll. I know that I'm not alone. I often bump into quite a famous dancer - we are regulars in the same café. I recognise her; she doesn't recognise me ... obviously, and I only know who she is because our son whispers at me whenever she passes. Off stage she looks tired. She might be mistaken for an angst-ridden teen in a black beanie on her way to meet her goth friends. There is nothing about her appearance to suggest that she transforms into one of the most accomplished and celebrated dancers of her generation. I imagine that she's a bit like me ... tired of all the perfection.
While I am slowly warming to ballet as an art form, I am generally not interested in anything that is perfect. I don't really believe in perfection as a concept, and as an illusion I find it tedious. I enjoy things that are flawed. I like to be disappointed by the reveal at the end of a thriller. I enjoy inadequate acting in films. I like it when singers pitch slightly under the note, or are slightly behind the beat. In turn, I accept my own flaws - they are my only chance at being at least a bit interesting. I am messy. I hoard junk. I can be surprisingly abrasive. As much as I want to become a better person, these are things I will keep until I can unearth deeper and darker flaws which will upgrade me from interesting to fascinating.
The pressure to produce a perfect Christmas annoys me. When Christmas is imperfect it becomes more memorable: the fights; the guests that show up late; the disappointment at the present that didn't fulfil expectation; the batteries that run out too quickly. These are the flavours of Christmas as much as cinnamon, chocolate orange, Meltis Newberry Fruits, or mince pies. These tastes linger long after the most expensive gift has exceeded its usefulness. This is what makes Christmas special. Long before we had children - when we were still more carefree than we realised - we once got so fed up with Christmas that we had Covent Garden Soup and champagne for Christmas lunch. It was brilliant. When the relatives finally arrived I was in such a state of bliss that arguments were an impossibility. I'd stopped caring about the food or the company; I was just happy. This is how Christmas should be - but arguably without the alcohol.
I will never forget the Christmas of 2015 - the one we have just celebrated:
- two family members unexpectedly in hospital
- one exhausted child for reasons I'll explain soon in my 'Nutcracker Blog'
- hours of driving across the Cotswolds in the dark
- the most hilarious Panto I have ever seen.
By my own standards, it was unforgettable.
Now that it is all over, and 2016 had got its foot firmly in the door, I can resume watching our son struggle with the demands of perfection. His body will grow and his mind will develop despite the centuries old tradition that is trying to exert its full control.
So, I hope you had an above average Christmas, and as we all return to work - or life - I wish you a blissfully mediocre 2016.