Not All Parts Included

I suppose it’s because of the season that the metaphor sprang so forcibly to my mind.

I was watching a beauty vlog on YouTube. (Don’t judge me. They’re easy entertainment and good therapy.) A charming young woman with a lot of followers began to chat about watching her mother teach her two tiny daughters how to bake cookies. I watched her glue on eyelashes, and reminisce, and smile serenely, and I became aware that my mood was sinking rapidly.

This was not the experience I ordered!

I gave myself a little shake to disconnect from the feeling and went on with my day, occasionally picking the feeling back up and studying it. Quite a while later, understanding struck.

“Not all parts included.”

You see, this is just about the time of year when, in my family’s general store, we would stock some wheel goods: bicycles, tricycles, and red wagons. We did not have a big inventory because they were a good-sized investment for a store like ours and took up considerable space. You needed to guess pretty accurately how many you could sell, and you absolutely had to assemble them for the customer.

Sometimes, in spite of experience and care, the box of parts just would not quite join together. Then, in exasperation you might spot a note somewhere in fine print on the big cardboard box you’d been wrestling: “Not all parts included.”

So, when I remembered that past feeling, I understood my present feeling.

If you did not have a happy family with a cookie-baking mama and smiling kiddies, this is a particularly tough time of year. The examples of familial bliss are really showcased during this season, and I have long-since walked away from getting angry about that. It sells a lot of stuff – including little red wagons – and it’s even the truth sometimes.

However, if you don’t have all those parts to work with in the box your life came packaged in, you just have to acknowledge that, improvise a solution, and let the folks whose packaging was complete enjoy their own experience without getting angry at them for not being you.

This whole explanation will make no visceral sense to them. That’s fine. But if your life made you have to go out and buy an extra wing nut or a couple of lock washers to function, just know that someone else gets it.

Take heart. Take a breath. Be kind in spite of it all. We’ll get through this one more year…just like we always have so far.