jackiehaugh.com
The Perfect Holiday Gift
Dressed to perfection in my new athletic apparel and spiked shoes, I stood at the tee with a license to kill in my gloved hand. Knowing the importance for a swing with precision, I slowly raised my $250 driver meticulously over my right shoulder, then, without hesitation, let it rip. “Ugh!” I cried, my face burning as the all too familiar sound “swoosh” stung my ears and wounded my ego. Once again, that stupid little ball defied contact, and I stood humiliated ready to let four-letter words fly. “Jackie, it’s OK.” my lifelong friend, Donna Frugaletti, sympathized. “I’ll give you a Mulligan. Do it again.” It’s no secret that I’m horrible at the game of golf. I need a million Mulligans just to get through any round, but I was touched, nonetheless, with Donna’s kindness as other impatient golfers looked on. Quickly reloading the club, I dialed in to unearth some Pro-Tour winning confidence, then smacked the ball straight down the fairway. Donna’s empathy not only saved my pride, but our entire day together. Being an adult means we often hold onto excess baggage from past travels that feels impossible to lose. God knows I’ve tried to misplace mine in every international airport I’ve journeyed only to find it’s still with me when I arrive home; that beat-up piece of luggage – my overwhelming fear of appearing stupid. Whether it’s some bonehead move on a golf course or a perfectly imperfect comment that slips out of my mouth at a cocktail party or wedding, whenever I feel that dunce cap being smashed over my curls, I internally crumble. But driving home that day, I wondered why I was always so hard on myself when others let my miscalculated blunders go easily. There was the time I hit the gas pedal instead of the brake in the family station wagon, smashing the tailgate into oblivion on a telephone pole. Rather than going on a tirade over my poor sense of judgment, my sweet father just scratched his head, and said, “Please be more careful.” While I love throwing parties, I’ve never been known for culinary aptitude. Underestimating cooking time has created many a raw meal, but instead of complaints, time and time again my guests load up on more chips and dip. And, when it comes to my writing, I’m the queen of misspelled words. Re-reading work that I’ve sent out to my sphere of followers, I cringe at a number of goofs riddled throughout the pages. Yet, rarely does anyone call me on it. Instead, I’m told how much they loved the story. Every holiday season I labor and stew over the perfect gift to give. Thanks to Donna’s example, happily this year I think I’ve found it: Mulligans – for everyone! To that crazy driver who cuts me off on the freeway because they’re in a hurry; I’ll grant a redo for their rude behavior. For all who make their living bombarding me with telemarketing calls, I won’t immediately hang up on them. As for my overly exuberant former husband, I’ll see you at Christmas dinner. And for me, my worst critic, when I blow it once again (and I will do it), I’ll take a breath, then allow myself a do-over. What better gift to give than the genuine expression of forgiveness at this time of year. It needs no ribbon or tape, glitter or gold. Just a warm smile when a mistake is made that says, “It’s OK.” After all, isn’t that the true meaning of Christmas? A time to gather, love and pardon each other's shortcomings with hearts wide open.