At Christmas time I love to decorate, and cook, and be creative! I’m really not into it at any other time of the year but at Christmas, it’s the season when all the details make a difference — or so I thought.

It’s been my goal that my house and home would look and feel like a Martha Stewart Christmas, with holly and ivy and scented candles galore. I strove to create an atmosphere consistent to that of her magazines. I used to get heightened anxiety about the napkins being pressed, and the formal china being used, and ornaments being placed just right. But no matter how hard I tried, there was always a particular detail that kept staring back at me from my Christmas table, shouting out its lack of perfection. My silverware was a pile of mismatched pieces that I had picked up here and there over the years.

When my husband and I got married there were no gifts of silverware. We’d received three spice racks, but not one utensil! Though we returned two spice racks, we exchanged them for much needed bathroom towels and our silverware fell to the bottom of our list of priorities. We continued to use garage sale, mismatched pieces.

Several years ago as the holidays approached, I decided it was long past time I got my silverware in order. I decided to purge the mismatched pieces and leave just the minimal amount in the drawer with plans to make small investments into a new complete set over the next few months. I had inherited my husband’s grandmother’s real silverware that I polished and used at holiday meals so I was covered for Christmas dinner, but although I had made a plan, I had not shared the details of it with my husband and he had noticed the lack of forks and spoons. He assumed the children were losing silverware in the garbage or a night monster was eating utensils.   

On Christmas morning, we exchanged gifts and amongst my packages was a sturdy rectangular box. As I unwrapped it, I began to realize the humor of my situation. It was a box of silverware. Not silverware that matched the set I was collecting, but silverware that my husband had found on sale and which was non-returnable. It was almost a modern day, “The Gift of the Magi.” My heart sank as I realized the irony of it, but he was so pleased to have solved the silverware shortage.

It wasn’t till sometime after that Christmas that I was able to fully laugh at the situation. The more I think about it, I realize how stuck I was in a rut of striving for the “perfect” look and was missing the true joy of the holiday season. Christmas isn’t about creating a staged atmosphere like that of a magazine. It’s the people that make the home, not the props.

This year as I looked at my silverware again, I needed a few more place settings. I decided to embrace the eclectic look of my collection and went to the thrift store, digging for unique pieces to add to my odd silverware collection. The perfectionist in me used to want every fork and knife to be uniform, but the girl in me who is tired of trying to be something I’m not is embracing my eclectic silverware with pride.