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What are your expectations for Christmas Day? Do you have a day planned that will be absolute perfection? Maybe it will have a Norman Rockwell sort of feeling to it – all warm and fuzzy. It could be this way if everything goes according to plan and if everyone there is in a good mood and falls in line with your idea. You run into a problem thinking this way because you can only control you and your expectations.

Chances are that something during the course of the day will happen so that the absolutely perfect day you have in mind is not quite so perfect. In my experience, something usually glitches.

I come from a large family. We (all of us – grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, brothers, sisters, their spouses and their children) used to gather for Christmas Day. It was so much fun! But also, very chaotic, very noisy, sometimes arguments would break out and, inevitably, something would go a little wrong with our Christmas Dinner. It was also exhausting. To avoid over-spending, we would each be assigned one family member to give a gift. More than once the recipient of the gift was not as thrilled with the gift as the giver had hoped. Both were disappointed.

Once someone forgot to put the turkey in the oven – never mind turn the oven on! Another time a family member forgot that they were in charge of snacks! Then there was the time that one of the families was stuck in traffic. I think they were more than 2 hours late!

I could go on with examples of what can go wrong – with such a large extended family I have plenty to say. I am, instead, going to talk today about you and your expectations.

Think about your expectations for the day.

If someone gives you a gift that doesn’t quite thrill you, remember it’s the thought that counts. Thank them for their thoughtfulness.

If you are hosting, have you done everything you can do to make the Christmas Day a success? If you have asked other people to bring parts of the meal, sending them a reminder text will help them help you.

If you are attending a Christmas party, are you bringing part of the meal? Do you have a small host/hostess gift on hand?

Are you giving gifts that require batteries? Have some extra batteries (of varying sizes) on hand so the gifts can be enjoyed right away.

If you take a little time to think about all the things that can go wrong and how you will feel when they do, then when nothing goes wrong you will be pleasantly surprised.

Here are a few tips for managing your expectations:
1. Think about the things you can control (decorations, table setting, menu – if you want to do the cooking, guest list for example)
2. Think about the things you cannot control (weather, mood of your guests, your guests’ expectations, traffic, if someone forgets to bring a part of the menu)
3. Let go of the things you can’t control – this is easy to say and sometimes hard to do.
4. Relax. Remember to breathe and to smile. It’s hard to enjoy anything if you’re worrying about what can go wrong. Chances are if something isn’t quite as perfect as you want it to be you will be the only one to know.

Finally, I know that Christmas can also be a hard time. When I look back and think about all the family members that used to gather for Christmas and now we don’t it makes me feel a bit melancholy. Some of the family have passed away, some are too spread out, and some are with other extended families. I am celebrating in a different way. I will not have the chaotic, action packed day of years passed but will have a lovely day. I am going to do something that makes me happy; take a nice long walk with my dogs and have a delicious dinner with friends.

Take some time to think about your expectations. Remember you are the only one who can manage your expectations.

Merry Christmas!

One Comment

  • Very interesting… We have much quieter Christmases now, and it sometimes feels like something is missing. Maybe the secret is not to think about what’s missing, but to truly appreciate what we do have.