Friday, November 30, 2012

Keeping expectations low during the holidays

At the meeting the other night, we talked about expectations that come as part of the holidays and the tools we can use to not set ourselves up for sadness and resentments.  We are going to do some decorating of the house but decided that this year we would keep it simple.  

No one is coming here for Christmas.  And,  just as for Thanksgiving, it will be our day to visit my in-laws.  We also decided to "adopt" an orphan for Christmas and fulfill the Christmas list of a 16 year old girl in one of the local orphanages. Both my wife and I have enough of everything so we aren't going to give anything to each other except small stocking stuffers.

It's easy to get lost in romanticizing the holidays. Just seeing all the activities in the newspaper and on TV makes everything seem enticing. It's easy to have all the visuals distort my thinking into having unrealistic expectations. I think that it's only natural to reminisce about what Christmas used to be like.  I have mostly good memories but for some of us, the memories are not so good. I do my best to stay in this day and not linger too long on the way things used to be.

The expectations of what Christmas should be, how it should feel, what you're going to give or get distorts everything and takes the pleasure out of it for me.  I like Christmas and appreciate the true spirit of it.  I don't like the commercial side at all. I do my best to be grateful for what I have and focus on those things that I truly need: love, food to eat, a house to live in.... and good books to read.

And the other part of the holiday is the number of opportunities to overdo on food and drink. We don't go to many parties anymore.   But when we do,  it's good to have have some cues to leave at a reasonable time. I call it my escape plan.  My wife doesn't want to go to parties where there is a lot of alcohol. Being around drinkers brings up feelings of unease for her.  I don't mind going without her, but I leave before the heavy partying starts.

We will be enjoying the new kitchen and doing some cooking.  Making cookies, cakes and pepper jelly as gifts for friends is what we are doing to enjoy the holidays.  

So I am keeping expectations low and going to enjoy all that we do have.  A good friend once told me to "lower expectations until you get what you want."  The lower my expectations are, the lower my disappointment level is going to be.  By having some kind of limit on what I'm doing,  I can face the holiday season without falling for the hype.


  1. Such good advice, as always, dear, wise Syd. And you speak from experience.

  2. my expectations are delibertly kept low,that way I will never be disappointed in anything.

  3. Epectations have caused me far more misery than life, or other people, blame them though I did. My struggle has been with myself. Thanks for this.

  4. Wishing you calm holidays, Syd

    Happy Aloha Friday
    from Honolulu
    Comfort Spiral

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  5. so true on the expectations....its hard this time of year as well...hope you do get a chance to enjoy that kitchen..

  6. Great post, Syd. I wish more people would do a low-key holiday ... I think they'd be happier in the end.

  7. I think your plan is a good recipe for everyday living, not just the holidays. My blogging is sporadic these days, so I will take this opportunity to wish you a blessed season and if we don't 'talk,' I will see you next year :-)

  8. I try every year to keep it tiny and cheap. Some years work better than others. I actually think my idea of tiny and cheap is an expectation I ought to let go of.

  9. I think I have a firm appreciation these days for keeping the holidays low key. I decorate the house if I feel like it. I send cards when I'm in the mood to do it and have time. I only buy gifts that I know will be a hit and I don't pull my hair out trying to "find a gift" for someone, there's nothing wrong with a gift card where they can get what they want. It's more about getting together with friends and relaxing. having some time off work. keeping things simple.

  10. Since being in Al-Anon I am learning to lower my expectations during the holidays, it takes such a weight off my shoulders and I'm learning to really live in the moment.

  11. Thanks Syd, The Holidays are difficult for me.
    I want it to be a Holiday filled time with friends and such...
    and also I get attached to what I want it to look like.
    These are old feelings that come up and there are still sticky moments where alot of sadness rests.
    I will try to have compassion for myself where I am at.
    Sitting with myself in meditation often helps me.

  12. Ditto to everything you wrote, Syd. One of my favorite quotes is this from Buddha: "Cease expecting and you have all things."

    1. I really like that quote. I'm gonna write that one down.

  13. Appreciate your transparency. Blessings.

  14. I agree with all of your words.Kudos for helping other's in need. That is a gift unto itself. I hope you and your wife have a beautiful holiday! xoxoxo from PA.

  15. Stopping by for a read and a hug.
    Thank you for Tab

  16. Such a beautiful idea. My family's Christmas was a mess for those exact reasons - all the family under one roof for a week, mom sneaking drinks, arguments, tears. Better to mold the season into what works for you. And for you guys to include a child in the holiday cheer - even more wonderful :) xxx


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