Managing Expectations During the Holidays
It's that time of year again! Everything is buzzing with excitement. There are crowds everywhere. Wherever you go there are bright lights, pretty decorations, and carols playing. People are excitedly rushing around doing last minute Christmas shopping and attending celebrations. In this exciting time with all the hustle and bustle, something else often happens. Whether we like it or not, we start to get high expectations about the season. We have expectations about what we will do, where we will go, how the kids will behave, how people will like our presents, what presents we want, and overall we just have expectations of a good holiday season. While these things can obviously always be a struggle, it seems like it's just heightened at this time of year.
I put the picture I did at the top because that is something I was expecting when I took my kid's Christmas photos last year. I wanted them to sit there and look cute and Christmasy on the first shot. This, however, is how most of the photo shoot went!
One kid turning around and the other one trying to rip the lights down. I find that a lot of times this is how life goes. We have really high expectations about things going perfectly and so when they don't it's so easy to get frustrated at ourselves and others. Why do I get frustrated with my kids when they do what kids would normally do and don't sit perfectly still for a picture? Because my expectations were too high! I saw a cute picture on Pinterest and wanted to get that picture without any trouble at all. You think I would learn, but the next day, it seems like I'm getting frustrated about the same thing again.
What can we do to manage our expectations about this holiday season and life in general? First, don't just assume that everyone else is on the same page as you. It's easy to have an expectation of something in our minds and think that everyone else just knows about it. But trust me, they don't. Our kids do not automatically know that we wanted a peaceful afternoon with no interruptions. Which brings us to the next point, and that is communicate to others! So many misunderstandings happen because we had a certain expectation about something and didn't tell the people involved. If we communicate well with others, especially during this incredibly busy season, it will help us all be on the same page. Also, if it's not important enough to bring it up to someone else, then just let it go. Some things aren't worth bringing up because they end up just causing tension between people.
The most important way that we can manage expectations throughout the holiday is just to have our focus on what it really should be on- and that is not ourselves. I find that so often the reason I am struggling with my expectations not being met is because I'm just so focused on myself and my needs and wants. Instead, we should remember what this season is about. In December, try to do an advent devotional or just read through all the verses in the Bible that talk about why Jesus came and what He did for us. I've found that helps me so much to get my focus back where it should be during this season. The Gospel should change our thinking and help us remember why we are here on earth. The fun things we do at Christmas are great, but they pale in comparison to what Jesus did for us. He was the greatest of all, yet He humbled Himself and came as a baby to someday save us from our sins. We can reflect this love to others by loving them, showing them kindness even when we disagree, and seeking to create unity this holiday season instead of creating tension with others. So, when inevitably something happens that does not meet the expectations you had during this season, turn your gaze to Jesus and remember what He did for you. Then, turn your gaze to those around you and love them the way Jesus loved you. He loved us at our worst. If someone carelessly runs into you and your whole tray of beautiful cookies comes crashing down BEFORE you could instagram them, no need to yell or cry or be upset at them. Just put your arm around them and laugh together about it. Life is much happier when we learn what truly matters. <3