Setting Realistic Expectations for the Holidays
Something that I have struggled with in the past is setting realistic expectations for the holidays. It’s easy to hop on Instagram and see beautiful trees, decorations, elegantly-wrapped presents, and feel that you are lacking because your presents look like they’ve been wrapped by a wildebeest (true story, I am terrible at wrapping presents. Even books. And they are just rectangles.) It’s also easy to set such high expectations for the holidays and find yourself getting unreasonably stressed, or anxious, or even angry when you fail to reach them. It’s also so, so easy to feel jealous.
Over the past few years, I’ve taken this goal to set realistic expectations very seriously. I want to make the holidays memorable, but in the right way–not marred by disappointment, but filled with the things that matter–family, friends, celebration, love. So this year, as in previous years, I’m setting realistic expectations. A good deal of that involves keeping things simple–reusing cherished decorations, focusing on things I do well, making good food (but good food that I know how to make). Getting someone else–namely, our wonderful local shops–to assist with present-wrapping. Making lots of lists of everything I will need. Creating a celebration that works for us, and that isn’t designed for public consumption. I’m specifically thinking about our tree, here. I love our Christmas tree ornaments–each has a special memory attached to it, and they were all chosen because members of our family loved them instead of them just “going” together, like if they were all the same shade or type of ornament. While the lure of a beautiful, cohesive, aesthetically pleasing tree is always there, in the end, that wouldn’t make me happy (and it wouldn’t make any of us happy, actually!) It’s so special to be able to cherish our memories and be reminded of Christmases past, and the people who are no longer with us. And I’m skipping the things I’m not good at and that we don’t need anyway! There’s no requirement to add extra stress when it’s a small family gathering, and I’d far rather have pictures with everyone smiling than picture of, say, a tablescape it took me six hours to put together. (I’m not whimsical enough to set a table with beautiful decorations; I’m more of the simple-is-best type in this department!)
I’m so excited for a peaceful and quiet holiday season here at home, and I’m so thrilled to know that I will be enjoying it–and being present during it!–with my family. I’m eager to see how everyone else celebrates the holidays when they choose to share, but this year, I’m looking at it as a glimpse into someone else’s traditions, instead of feeling like I’m lacking because my gifts are less-than-ideally wrapped. It’s the thought that counts, and this year, I’m putting good thoughts into the world!
How do you avoid the holiday comparison game?