Every year I spend countless hours preparing for my family Christmas celebration. This year I had the house decorated and all the gifts wrapped by Thanksgiving. I was more prepared than ever before for my children to arrive and the celebration to begin. I always overdo, and this year was no exception.

Folks get upset with me because I do too much, but I always figured the bags under my eyes and the backaches were worth creating a memorable Christmas for all. About November each year, my best friend starts to roll her eyes, and my husband throws his hands up in the air while waving the dreaded checkbook.

My stubbornness prevents me from looking at those eyes or the checkbook because I believe once they eat my cookies and enjoy their new gifts, they will eventually forgive and thank me. Nothing stops my overcooking, my overspending, my overdecorating, and my overdone Christmas stubbornness. That is until the Gendusa Geyser erupted in the front yard.

It was late on December 25 when we noticed a small pond around our mailbox. Water gurgled from the ground and spilled onto the street. We live in a community with over 70 homes and an association to keep us from painting our houses purple or putting a boat in our front yards.

The powers that be congregated around the forming lake on the 26th, and it was decided not to turn off the water for the neighborhood because it was Christmas with visitors who prefer basic necessities.

“We should let the water flow into the street for a few more days. It probably won’t get worse!” declared the plumber and all those who just wanted to go home and enjoy Christmas leftovers and family.

On the afternoon of the 27th, as my family was preparing for another feast and more celebration, I noticed the pond was now an official lake. Muddy water no longer trickled, but currents were waving down the street, causing cars to swoosh through the flood.

Then as I watched the ocean rise, suddenly, as if we struck oil, muddy water shot 60 feet into the air and rained down onto our yard and streets! Folks ran from their homes, taking videos and pictures. The Gendusa Geyser was headed for the history books.

The water was quickly shut off for the entire neighborhood, the plumbers returned, dug up the yard, repaired the old pipes, and put crime scene tape around the whole muddy mess, cautioning our neighbors that the Christmas Water Criminals live here.

While watching the tidal waves, I learned a valuable lesson; I can prepare for Christmas or for any day, but who knows when a geyser will rain on our parade of preparedness. Maybe, just maybe, the mud taught me that even though we try to invent perfection and an ideal Christmas-like life, there is always something lurking to muddy the beautiful picture.

One night soon after, while my children were still here, we were talking until the wee hours of the morning. Catching up with my children is always a treat, and rare because my three live in different parts of the country. The conversations caused tears and laughter, and as I sat on the floor, I noticed bits of wrapping paper and cookie crumbs on the rug. The disarray had formed its own path through my once idyllic Christmas decorated home. Yes, perfection was gone, but was it?

Life’s perfect moments are not found in the yard, or a house or in the Hallmark version of a Christmas holiday. As I watched my three children laughing, supporting one another and creating a memory they shall never forget, the heart of Christmas reigned in my imperfect home.

Finally, the children waved goodbye and headed to their far-away homes to begin a new decade of living. They packed their gifts that were once wrapped with beautiful bows and they will soon forget what they received on Christmas day 2019. However, what they will recall is the geyser in the front yard, the family of four musketeers still holding hands amid life’s clutter, and the shared love that no amount of water can drown.

As I walk into 2020, I will make some changes, or at least try to curtail my overzealous ways, and enjoy this imperfect life the Lord gave me including geysers, goodbyes, and all the gifts of my life.

Lynn Gendusa of Roswell is the author of “It’s All Write with Me!” Essays from my heart. She can be reached at www.lynngendusa.com.

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