In a perfect world the frosting on that cake would be white.
In a perfect world the candles would be light blue.
In a perfect world there would be roses, and a blue table cloth, and pretty napkins instead of garish ones that scream "Happy Birthday" in primary colors.
In a perfect world that would be the way to honor the Blessed Mother on her birthday.
But I don't live in a perfect world. I live in a world full of sticky fingers and forgotten dates, lost sleep and scattered toys, dirty diapers (yes, still) and tantruming toddlers. My world is far from perfect. Which, if you think about it, is the reason we honor that woman at all -- because our world isn't perfect and needs the babe she carried.
Since my world is not perfect, I have been quite imperfect at celebrating the church year. I'm a fairly recent convert. These are not the traditions and observances of my childhood home. These things do not flow in the rhythm of my days. They take effort and time to be made just right; time which is often in short supply.
Yet, the time has come to stop letting my perfectionist tendencies impede my efforts. See this year I have a candidate for First Holy Communion, and I have come to the conclusion that the Faith can not merely be learned. To be lasting, the Faith has to be lived. That means participating in the Mass, knowing the saints intimately, living a rhythm of prayer, celebrating with the Church through her seasons of feasts and fasting. This must be done in a way that is tangible to the small child, which means appealing to the senses and their desire for story and song.
For all of this to happen, I am just going to have to get over myself. It doesn't need to be perfect, but it does need to be done and done regularly. Don't get me wrong. I am all about giving my best to God, but once a desire to have things "just so" reaches a certain point, then it becomes more about my pride and nothing at all about glorifying Him.
So yesterday I simply reached into the cupboard and pulled out the boxed cake mix and frosting we had on hand. Olivia helped to make and frost the cake -- including the crater-sized hole in the bottom layer. We used the birthday candles from our last party. We chose that particular statue of the Blessed Mother because it is the only one we own. We added the napkins, because nothing says celebration to a five-year-old more than colorful birthday napkins. Then we sang, we prayed, and we talked about why we honor the mother of our Lord.
In the end, maybe it was perfect after all.