I learned that having expectations at this time of year is not wise. I used to expect that all of my family would be able to get together for Christmas and that when we were all together it would be one giant feel good Norman Rockwell painting. Everyone would be overflowing with happiness and the house (our house) would be filled with laughter and joy. The meals would be abundant and perfect and effortless. My home would be decorated for Christmas with artistic flair and the spectacular tree would have exquisitely wrapped gifts under it far in advance of the big day. (Insert sound of record scratching)
After a few years of watching my visions come crashing down around me one expectation at a time, I began to think differently. I slowly started to realize that the more expectations I created for myself the more open to disappointment I was. It can get really complicated to organize families where divorces have occurred. So-and-so has to spend the holiday with his dad and little what’s-her-name is with her mom this year. I have a son from a previous marriage and his dad and I take turns spending Christmas with him and now my step son has a son from a previous marriage plus his own step kids and so on and so forth. Not only is it unrealistic to expect to have them all with me but it’s down right unfair too. I remember my own mother expecting us all to be with her for Christmas and if it didn’t work out I’d feel guilty. I’m proud of how she has given away her expectations and just goes with the flow now.
There is one expectation that I believe we should never abandon though. And that is to feel joy. We should always expect to feel joy and to help others to feel joy. It’s “joy to the world” time after all.
Why are so many of us stressed out at Christmas time? It’s because we tend to expect too much of ourselves and our families. Let’s all relax and just focus on expecting to have fun and just enjoy ourselves. No matter what happens or doesn’t happen. There shouldn’t be a script. Go with the flow. Hallelujah!