The Problem with Holiday Expectations {Part 1}

image by Jose Diaz Ortiz
image by Jose Diaz Ortiz

No matter what I do, it’s not going to be perfect.

I’ve had to learn this a few times in life. (Or rather, a few thousand times.)

The new glass vase shatters. The kid screams her way through the baptism. The exam just doesn’t go as expected.

And therein lies the problem — the expectation. Because, of course, if we didn’t have those darned expectations, we’d be home-free.

If we didn’t think that the holidays would be smooth sailing with the in-laws, or include delightful visions of perfect Roman piazzas on starry nights, or feature only perfectly (preciously) clad well-behaved children in the church’s nativity play, well then, we’d be doing just fine. 

We’d be just fine when things went to pot and expectations turned themselves on their heads and we ended up with all that we didn’t want. All that we never wanted. We’d be just fine when we ended up sharing Christmas dinner with the neighbor, or while clutching candles in an unforeseen storm, or while holding a vomiting child over a toilet bowl for hours on end. (All things that have happened to me or loved ones, I promise.)

As it is though, our expectations of the holidays are what are really hurting us. If we didn’t have them, we’d be golden. Ready to take in and accept any and everything that happens to come our way during this season of change and fun and family and food.

(Or at least, most everything.)

This year, it’s time to think about what you expect to happen, and then try to throw that simple expectation out the window. The goal, of course, is to not expect anything. To let the love and joy and peace and love come flowing in because it’s all so unexpected. Because even though substituting squash for pumpkin puree didn’t sound like a great idea at the time, with enough nutmeg, no one noticed. (Even without the nutmeg, no one would’ve noticed, you now realize.)

So what can you do to reach this holy bliss of holiday happiness? 

See Part 2 of this series for 10 specific questions to ask yourself to ensure that you aren’t holding undue expectations this holiday season. If you are (don’t worry, we all are), I’ll also provide some tips on getting out of the expectation rut. After all, what we’re going for is holiday joy, not holiday disappointment.

So go on, head over to Part 2.

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