While attending a wedding recently, talk among the guests turned to the cake, a six-tiered wonder with a different hue of brown frosting on each tier.

While you might be as surprised as I was to learn there are six different hues of brown, that wasn’t the issue; instead, it was the story behind the cake maker and the cake.

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It seems the bride was stressed about making sure the cake was absolutely, totally and completely perfect, and as brides have a way of doing, she conveyed that “concern” to the cake maker very clearly.

The now-stressed cake maker, in an effort to make the cake absolutely, totally and completely perfect, spent loads of extra time making sure the cake would be perfect. And when the cake maker achieved what she thought was perfection, the cake was delivered. So when the bride saw it, the cake maker was stunned when the bride blew a gasket.

It seems the stressed cake maker, lost in her obsession with perfection, baked the cake a week early and took it to the wrong wedding and the wrong bride.

In the end, everything worked out for both brides and the cake maker, but it was truly a case of good intentions gone wrong, of too much stress packed into too little time with the sadly predictable result: disappointment, anger, frustration.

Kind of like what you might see at a family holiday party or two this month?

It’s not that the holidays are a disappointing, frustrating time of year. Quite the opposite, actually, since this is the one time of year when people generally work especially hard to make others around them happy.

And that’s the rub: When you’re trying hard to make someone else happy, whether by hosting the perfect party or giving the perfect gift or trying to say the perfect meaningful thing, quite the opposite often seems to happen.

The host spends so much time in the kitchen, trying to make the party perfect, that he or she doesn’t mingle with the guests, causing heartache during and after the party.

Or the person giving the gift becomes so wrapped up in making it perfect that, no matter what response the recipient musters, it’s not enough.

Or the person searching for the perfect thing to say delivers a wooden speech that clangs to the floor.

No one at the wedding asked for my advice about the cake, just as none of you asked for my opinion about holiday parties and gifts. But try as I might, I can’t help myself, and I’m going to give it to you anyway. It may not be original, but here goes: When it comes to the holidays, it’s the thought that counts, not the perfect thought. Everything else is just a shade of brown-hued frosting, and all of the shades tasted the same to me.