“The kids and grand kids are coming home for Christmas this year, and I want everything to be perfect. I have to find new decorations, all their favorite recipes, and figure out where everyone will sleep?” This conversation started spinning in my mind. Before I knew it, I’d created a picture-perfect Christmas fantasy where everyone spent every minute together in happiness and joy. The problem with this fantasy in my head stemmed from the reality that only “I” had decided everything. I created expectations that were unrealistic and selfish. They primed my mind and heart for disappointment and frustration.
At least one person or their spouse in every family has children, divorced parents, or they have been through a divorce. These complexities mean the time they have during the Holiday Season must be split up. The fantasy you created in your mind doesn’t consider the pressures your family members feel during the Holidays. They are stress trying to figure out how to spend time with everyone and keep the peace in their core and extended families. In fact, when you place fantasy expectations on them you’re adding to their stress.
Family dynamics, especially where abuse has happened or is currently happening, are often challenging and hard on a normal day, let alone the Holidays. To avoid and even prevent disappointment, let’s look at the definition of expectation. Expectation is defined as setting your mind on an outcome you created or feel you are owed, an entitlement mindset. In other words, your expectations are all about “you.”
The spirit of Christmas is all about giving love. Just as God’s love came down to earth in the form of baby Jesus, we are called to share our love with one another. To avoid disappointment and frustration this Christmas, I encourage you to replace your expectations and fantasy with anticipation. Anticipation is defined as an attitude of hope and looking forward to something without demanding an outcome. Your attitude of anticipation is the spirit of Christ’s love for us to choose to walk with him every day.
Outline of Love and Anticipation
I’m sharing an outline I created years ago and still follow today to help you avoid being disappointed and frustrated at Christmas:
- Decide in your mind and heart that you’ll be grateful and enjoy the time others share with you without demands or expectations.
- Let everyone know you’re glad they’re coming but that you also know how busy they are with all their family and friends.
- Tell them with a gracious heart that they’re free to come and go as they need to and you’ll be glad to help them in any way you can.
- Plan your meals and times and let your children and family know them. Tell them they are welcome to join you if they can but if they can’t you understand and send them love.
Follow this outline and remember to keep your focus on our true pure example of love, Jesus Christ our Savior. Anticipate enjoying the gift of any time you have with your family and friends and let go of all your expectations. Remember time is the most precious gift anyone can give you. Choose to cherish these times. These decisions and actions will help you avoid being disappointed and frustrated this Christmas. Have a Merry Christmas!