This image released by Disney shows, from left, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson, Nathanael Saleh and Emily Blunt in “Mary Poppins Returns.” (Jay Maidment | Disney via the Associated Press)

This image released by Disney shows, from left, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Pixie Davies, Joel Dawson, Nathanael Saleh and Emily Blunt in “Mary Poppins Returns.” (Jay Maidment | Disney via the Associated Press)

Practically perfect for the holidays

None of us is perfect. I can prove it.

The holidays can be stressful. It’s easy to feel pressure to create the perfect holiday experience. The strain of creating magical memories for your children through buying the perfect present or observing the most meaningful traditions can become overwhelming, especially when you’re bombarded by the sounds and sights of holiday bliss in the stores, online and every time you turn on the TV. There are countless cool ways to celebrate that you’ve never thought of, and there’s always someone who celebrates better than you do. But none of us is perfect.

Repeat after me, “I am not perfect.”

I can prove it.

[Merry Gluten-free Christmas]

What is the most perfect movie of all time? If you said anything other than “Mary Poppins,” then we might have to step outside to settle this. I can’t imagine a better movie or a more fabulous heroine than Mary Poppins. Mary can fly through the air aided only by her umbrella, transport herself and her charges into a magical chalk drawing, slide up the staircase to the astonishment of the children and is beloved by all. Yet for all of her accomplishments, Mary Poppins is only “practically perfect in every way.” Her tape measure could have described her as “positively perfect in every way,” but it didn’t. She is “practically perfect.”

Any student of the English language knows that “practically perfect” means “almost perfect,” or “not quite all the way perfect.” You might even say, “very nearly perfect.” But the qualifier leaves no doubt that Mary Poppins is not, in fact, perfect.

Now I ask you: if Mary Poppins herself is not perfect, why should you expect to be? Do you think you can be more perfect than Mary Poppins? Come on! The best thing you can do is to remember that there is only one Mary Poppins, and you are not her. Strive to be “practically perfect” instead. It takes all the pressure off.

So what does it look like to be “practically perfect” for the holidays?

When it comes to buying presents, don’t feel like you have to find that one perfect gift that will prove your love for its recipient. Just pick something fun, something they might like. It’s OK if it’s not perfect. Practically perfect is good enough. If you ordered gifts online and they didn’t arrive on time, don’t despair. There are 12 days of Christmas for a reason!

When you decorate for the holidays, don’t worry about perfection. If you drop your favorite candelabra and break one of the five glass candleholders, don’t panic. Just ditch the other four, set the candles straight onto the metal frame and move forward. No one but you will miss the glass. When looking for a Christmas tree, don’t stress over the perfect fit. Judicious use of a handsaw can make it practically perfect in no time. If you come down to Christmas Eve and the tree isn’t decorated yet, don’t sweat it. If you can’t get your lights hung up until after Christmas, no big deal. Leave them up until the spring equinox; your neighbors will thank you for lighting the dark days of winter.

On New Year’s Eve, if you fall asleep at 9:30 p.m. when you’re trying to make it to midnight, don’t fret. You don’t have to start the new year exhausted or incapacitated by a hangover just because of some tradition. A good night’s sleep sounds like a practically perfect way to ring in the new year to me.

[What can I do with this umbrella?]

If you’re entertaining on New Year’s Day and you forget to turn on the oven so the ham is three hours behind schedule, don’t despair. Mary Poppins might say that hunger makes the best sauce. Your guests will be so hungry by the time you finally sit down to eat that your feast will be practically perfect.

When you turn your thoughts to New Year’s resolutions, remember the lessons you learned from Mary Poppins. You could consider yourself to be practically perfect already, and skip the resolutions completely. No one would fault you for that. But if you do resolve to better yourself, don’t worry if you slack off. If you resolve to tidy up your kitchen every night before you go to bed, but you miss an average of two to three nights a week in the month of January, keep plugging away. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Any amount of tidying is a step forward.

When you’re celebrating the holidays, keep in mind that you don’t have to create the perfect experience. Practically perfect is good enough. Or, as Mary Poppins might say, “Enough is as good as a feast.” Wise words from a practically perfect person!

• Peggy McKee Barnhill is a wife, mother and author who writes cozy mysteries under the pen name “Greta McKennan.” She likes to look at the bright side of life. Her column runs on the last Sunday of every month.

More in Home

Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé goalkeeper Alex Mallott stops a shot by Ketchikan’s Joe Larson (9) during the Crimson Bears 4-2 win May 17 over the Kings during the regional tournament at Adair-Kennedy Field. JDHS defeated Ketchikan again in state semifinals to advance to the state title game. (Klas Stolpe / Juneau Empire file photo)
Both JDHS soccer teams are playing for the state title on Saturday

Boys to defend crown in rematch against Soldotna, followed by top-seeded girls against Kenai Central

Juneau high school seniors Edward Hu of Juneau-Douglas High School: Kalé (left), Elizabeth Djajalie of Thunder Mountain High School (center) and Kenyon Jordan of Yaaḵoosgé Daakahídi Alternative High School. (Photos of Hu and Jordan by Juneau Empire staff, photo of Djajalie by Victor Djajalie)
Senior Spotlight 2024: Three top students take very different paths to graduation stage

Ceremonies for Juneau’s three high schools take place Sunday.

The entrance road to Bartlett Regional Hospital. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire file photo)
Bartlett Regional Hospital looking at eliminating or trimming six ‘non-core’ programs to stabilize finances

Rainforest Recovery Center, autism therapy, crisis stabilization, hospice among programs targeted.

(Clarise Larson/ Juneau Empire file photo)
Both JDHS soccer teams advance to state semifinals after decisive wins

Top-seeded girls stay undefeated with 5-0 win against Palmer, second-seeded boys top Homer 3-1.

Mayor Beth Weldon (left), Deputy Mayor Michelle Bonnet Hale and Juneau Assembly member Paul Kelly discussion proposals for next year’s mill rate during an Assembly Finance Committee meeting on Wednesday night. (Mark Sabbatini / Juneau Empire)
Assembly members support lower 10.04 mill rate ahead of final vote on next year’s CBJ budget

Initial proposal called for raising current rate of 10.16 mills to 10.32 mills.

A king salmon. (Ryan Hagerty/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
Biden administration advances bid to list Gulf of Alaska king salmon as endangered or threatened

Experts say request could restrict activity affecting river habitats such as road, home construction

Dave Scanlan, general manager of Eaglecrest Ski Area, speaks to the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Finance Committee on April 13, 2023. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire file photo)
Dave Scanlan forced out as Eaglecrest’s general manager, says decision ‘came as a complete shock to me’

Resort’s leader for past 7 years says board seeking a “more office-process, paper-oriented” manager.

The entrance to the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.’s Anchorage office is seen on Aug. 11, 2023. The state-owned AGDC is pushing for a massive project that would ship natural gas south from the North Slope, liquefy it and send it on tankers from Cook Inlet to Asian markets. The AGDC proposal is among many that have been raised since the 1970s to try commercialize the North Slope’s stranded natural gas. (Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Eight young Alaskans sue to block proposed trans-Alaska natural gas pipeline

Plaintiffs cite climate change that harms their access to fish, wildlife and natural resources.

Most Read