Managing Expectations



We all have our idea of happy holiday is. I can only speak to the Christian and secular ones because that is my experience, but I am sure when Hanukkah and Kwanza come around there are expectations and rituals in the minds of all who observe and celebrate.

I enjoy decorating for Christmas. It is an obsession of mine. I surround myself with red, green, silver, gold, and an inordinate amount of glitter. My poor husband finds glitter in places a man should never find glitter…like his ears…geez. My funny friend came over to have dinner for Thanksgiving and said, “Wow, it looks like Santa threw up in here.” It’s true, and this year I couldn’t even afford a tree. I just decorated every other surface. I love shiny things during the rest of the year but during those days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, my apartment looks positively sparkling.

If I didn’t have those decorations would I be disappointed? Would it wreck my Christmas spirit? It really would disappoint me. I feel like these decorations really get me in the mood for Christmas. The glittery trees and deer make me think of showering my family with gifts, and the snow globe nativity makes me think about giving thanks to the Lord. I don’t need those things to do any of it, but it helps. It makes me joyous. I think it is important but not everything.

My perfect Thanksgiving and Christmas includes family. Traditionally for Christmas or Thanksgiving I break bread surrounded by family – gobs of it. I have two brothers and a sister, aunts and uncles, a Grandma who is splendid. For the past, *ehem* years and years, I have not been without family for Thanksgiving, until this year. This year my hubby and I were going to be celebrating alone. I will be honest- I was feeling sort of down about it. I love my hubby but holidays always mean big family to me. I was determined to make it special but I was down. We had decided to break our meat embargo and really go crazy by having a meat I miss most – BBQ ribs. I made my finest potato salad, zucchini a gratin, and asparagus. Then we invited a very lovely friend! The delightful Alice Isak brought the best cranberry sauce I’ve ever tasted and pumpkin pie. We ate until we were stuffed, talked for hours, laughed, learned things, and no one felt deprived at all. I am a little closer to my hubby and my dinner guest.  It was just as epic as every other Thanksgiving. While I missed the family I usually spent the Thanksgiving with (some I didn’t even get to Skype or talk to and that was sad) I was touched and felt loved by the people who did include me in their holiday.

Alice has been teaching me something and I think I finally get it. Holidays and big days like birthdays can mean or can be celebrated in a new way. It doesn’t make the old way less precious or thoughtful. It doesn’t down play where you have been or where you are going, but it does make it just as special. If this year you are lacking what normally makes your holiday special, whichever holiday it is, look around and think about another way you can celebrate.  Too often, I have found myself clinging to traditions of the past and ruining days in my present. I will not do that anymore. When faced with a holiday without what you have normally had, I hope my friends and family reading this will create new traditions or will take another look at the holiday in a different way. Don’t ruin it for yourself: embrace new experiences, new friends, and new traditions.

4 thoughts on “Managing Expectations

  1. Mandy

    There’s something sacred about those holidays you celebrate with just the two of you. It can be sad but I get a lot of comfort from tons of cooking and baking. Try out some holiday recipes that you wouldn’t see back home using your new food knowledge. I made eggplant parmigiana last year, it felt very festive. Or make gingerbread with organic fresh ginger. It’s fun.

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