Say what you want about weariness, family dysfunction, commercialism, overeating and overspending. Or that the sun’s been AWOL for 7 days straight and what’s left of the snow looks like it fell from a volcano. Any number of stress disorders, worries about money, and disliking your own relatives (including Mother) count for nothing when a houseful’s coming, it’s your turn to entertain, and hubby’s at hockey with the kids.
Not much I can add to the 487 articles on Google about holiday survival except for this: Never try out a new recipe with 20 coming for dinner.
I spent (too) many years expecting myself to live up to what I assumed was expected. I didn’t make it “granular”; Enjoyment wasn’t My Enjoyment. I lived the saying that expectations are premeditated disappointments.
Having a merry or happy or blessed was always accompanied by the picture of what it meant to be merry, happy, blessed.
I once believed that tramping through the snow, in the dark, to sit on a lonely outcropping at the edge of the forest to read a holiday card was worthy of a tug at my heart. The fact, unromantic but true, was almost certainly a frozen body part, wolves in the woods, and having to pee part way there with the probability of my butt being frozen to my heels.
I don’t think we like the holidays because we’re supposed to like the holidays; we expect to, everyone expects us to, and everyone expects everyone else to, as well. How is underwear a gift? Who could enjoy watching Uncle Jim throw up turkey dinner after drinking too much? Why would anyone endure the personal fallout of driving 600 icy miles to be with people you’re supposed to love but don’t really like?
Ain’t the holidays fun?
But when we have choices that lead us away from depression, guilt, hurt, or disappointment, we don’t make those choices often enough.
That underwear is given as a gift isn’t the reason we don’t like the holidays; the reason we don’t is because underwear, even if it has holes in it, is to be expected from parents, not partners. Big girl panties don’t send the romantic message that he’d marry you all over again. Thinking about it, though, I wouldn’t object to “tightie-whities” and “sexy” being in the same sentence.
Dissatisfaction with most holidays may have to do with the let-down that descends after shopping, spending, wrapping, waiting, and expecting. Is that all there is?
“Lower your expectations of earth,” said author Max Lucado. “This isn’t heaven, so don’t expect it to be.”
Translation: There is no gift wrap in heaven.
Kathe Skinner is a Colorado Marriage & Family Therapist who always falls for The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Colorado Christmas even though she doesn’t ski and is basically an East-coast girl. She lives along the Front Range of the Rockies with cozy husband David and their two kitties Petey and Lucy, who leave little presents for them year ‘round.
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