My hometown is beautiful at Christmas with twinkling lights and picture perfect decorations. It mirrors the image of Christmas. A season of great expectations.
Unmet holiday expectations are disappointing. How many children are disappointed because they don’t get the toy they wanted? How many people are disappointed because family relationships aren’t what they hoped for? The Normal Rockwell family sitting around the fire singing Christmas carols is an unspoken expectation during the holidays. Does your home pale in comparison? Ideal expectations bring disappointment, frustration, sadness, even anger. How do you handle unmet holiday expectations?
Heading into the Christmas season, check your holiday expectation levels. Are they idealistic, realistic, or pessimistic? Having realistic expectations helps your emotional health going into holiday parties. Realistic expectations don’t mean expecting more than what people can give. It also doesn’t mean expecting the worse. If we look for the worse in a person or situation we will probably find it. Realistic expectations mean accepting people where they are and with what they can offer.
Accepting “it is what it is” for situations and relationships sets exact expectations. It also gives you the ability to change what you can control. “It is what it is, so what am I going to do about it?” is a good question to ask yourself when facing unmet expectations.
- Instead of being disappointed if the family can’t be together on Christmas Day, what are creative ways to celebrate when everyone is together?
- Do you have constant strife with someone? Have you sought help from a pastor, mentor, counselor or friend to help you deal with what you give to the relationship?
- Are your finances are not what you hoped for this holiday? Can you make meaningful celebrations that are rich in activity and conversation rather than in material things?
- Are you emotionally stuck in bitterness or anger? What do you need to change to get unstuck?
- Are there toxic people in your life? What boundaries do you need to set so you don’t take on their toxic behavior during the holidays?
Realistically assessing these and other situations allows you to adjust your expectations and reminds you that you’re not powerless. What can action or attitude to you need do change?
Over the next few weeks, make an effort to set realistic expectations for relationships and holiday hoopla, acknowledging, “It is want it is.” Then, change or readjust what you can control to walk through the holidays in good physical, spiritual, and mental health. That’s the best gift you can give to yourself and those around you. What are healthy ways you handle unmet holiday expectations?
Dear Father, please help us to accept what we can change and release what we can’t to you. Will you carry our disappointments as we enter this time meant to celebrate and glorify you? Amen.