What’s the easiest way to kill holiday joy? Unrealistic expectations. It isn’t easy trying to recapture those feelings of holidays experienced as a child. These great—but unrealistic—expectations can be hard to meet as an adult. And since the pandemic began, the holidays may even be more challenging than usual.
By letting go of unrealistic expectations, the holidays can be joyful once again.
- Never give out of guilt.
Holidays are often a time to reciprocate in gifts, parties, favors, and invitations. Marketers entice consumers to buy, and overspending can become a problem if gifts are a way to impress someone. But giving should never be done out of guilt. Sometimes homemade gifts or cards made out of love, not obligation, are the best gifts of all.
- Delegate responsibilities to others.
The holiday activities of cooking big meals, tree and house trimming, and holiday baking can be time-consuming. Add them to an already packed schedule, and it can become overwhelming. It is wise to share responsibilities with others.
- Avoid anything in excess.
Too much drinking, eating, and socializing can destroy a person’s peace or at least disrupt it. Avoid the pressure or excuse of “it’s only once a year”—then, pay for it in the months following. Avoid drinking and eating binges. Changes in sleep patterns and daily activities can lead to exhaustion and getting sick. Now, more than ever, getting plenty of rest and taking care of one’s health is vital.
- Plan a visit with the family beforehand to avoid as many problems as possible.
Thinking a family get-together will turn out perfectly will only create more disappointment. If it is too much to have all the children and grandchildren stay together under one roof, discuss beforehand if it would be better for them to spend the night at a hotel so that everyone can get some rest. Or maybe have only a few family members and friends over. If getting together is not feasible, set a time to do a video call.
- Be prepared to deal with disappointments.
Friends and family will sometimes disappoint during the holidays. Recognize that everyone is fighting a
battle. People come into the holidays with their own set of unrealistic expectations, as well as dealing with deflated hopes and dreams. Rarely will people act out of character. If “Uncle George” is unreasonably irritable when children are present, he will probably be cranky during the holidays. And if “Aunt Sue” always drinks too much, she probably will this year. Accept that there will be disappointments; set necessary boundaries.
- Refocus by taking on a new role.
For example, become the family photographer—take individual and group pictures together. Or set aside a worktable and prepare crafts for the children. As families get together, they tell funny stories. Record these stories in a video or write them down in a scrapbook which will be rewarding to look at in later years.
- Have something to look forward to after Christmas.
Often a method of getting through something is to look beyond it. Prepare something to look forward to after it is all over. It could be a day off to do a favorite activity like going to a movie, seeing a museum exhibit, getting a massage, or going out to lunch with a friend. Having a time of self-care planned in January will be a well-deserved reward.
- Don’t forget the real meaning of Christmas.
Despite the season’s stress, use this time to celebrate the real meaning of Christmas: Christ. Read one chapter of Luke each night starting the first of December. There are 24 chapters; so, finish reading by Christmas Eve.
Need more help to get through the holidays? Call us at 800-NEW-LIFE. Prayer and resources are just a phone call away!
by Peggy Robinson