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.