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By Jane Wangersky
"There's never time to do it right, but always time to do it over" - people say this as if it were a bad thing.
Why? Anything that's not done perfectly should be done over, again and again and again, without any wimpy "waiting for the right time".
Holidays, for example. If Thanksgiving is ruined by something like the marshmallows on the sweet potatoes getting scorched, don't wait a year for your next chance - serve a whole new Thanksgiving dinner the very next day. (Why do you think the kids have it off?) The turkey will be a lot cheaper, and what you should have done will be fresh in your mind.
Perfectionists are re-staging holidays all year long, all over the nation. Diane Blank, of Freezing Point, New York, joined in after spending a miserable Christmas in 2008.
"I had a bad cold," she recalls. "Must've sneezed at least four times. Then my daughter Magna sulked for ten whole minutes because she got a Desert Raspberry cashmere sweater for Christmas instead of an Autumn Fuchsia one. But the worst part was, the charge on the camera ran down just as we were about to take our traditional picture of the turkey. We tried to put off dinner till it recharged, but we got hungry. And it just didn't feel like Christmas without a picture of the turkey. We've always taken one - ever since 1989."
Blank grieved over her ruined holiday until the first snowfall of February. "I was thinking how it looked like Christmas all over again - and I just up and decided it would be."
The family scrambled to dig out Christmas decorations, borrow an artificial tree, buy a new round of presents for each other (including the properly fuchsia sweater), whip up a festive turkey dinner, and, of course, recharge the camera. Was it worth it?
"Of course!" says Blank. "I felt fine, Magna liked her presents, and I got a picture of the turkey!"
Major holidays aren't the only restageable occasions. If the Valentine's Day flowers were a little wilted around the edges, if your Mother's Day dinner at that snooty French restaurant didn't taste quite right, don't hesitate to demand a do-over. Your family and friends may resist at first, but ultimately they'll be glad they were railroaded into it.
Private occasions, like birthdays and anniversaries, are even more restageable. If your birthday falls at an inconvenient time of year, like tax time or the middle of Christmas shopping season, go ahead with it - but declare a second birthday for yourself. Do your homework and pick a day when the maximum number of people can come bearing gifts. They won't mind buying you a second set - after all, you've given them the gift of knowledge that they just might get away with this themselves.
(If you were born in summer, don't stop at two birthdays a year - as a child, you never got to take a cake to school and be the center of attention, so you're entitled to several extra celebrations.)
So - think of the last special occasion you celebrated. Was it perfect? No? Well, you know what to do.
© 2009 Jane Wangersky
OTHER HW ARTICLES BY JANE WANGERSKY
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jane Wangersky writes about slugs, the English language, and anything else she thinks people might sit still for. Since winning a local award for a short story that was really just a page of unworkable word problems, she has been busy pushing her luck.