Dec. 12, 2018
A while back there were a flurry of videos on social media titled expectation vs. reality. People would try to recreate different athletic stunts or model poses and spectacularly fall short. I am feeling this way during the holiday season. I think we have an unrealistic expectation on what this season is supposed to look like. All the movies and songs convince us that this is the most wonderful time of the year. Families are together! Everyone is showing their love and joy of being together! Perfect, coordinated decorations! Intricate, multiple holiday desserts! Perfect, thoughtful presents that are a surprise and the recipient never knew they couldn’t live without!
I have been talking to a lot of people with college kids. We all have this sigh of relief and joy when we finally have everyone sleeping under the same roof. This contentment and joy that we are all together. In a lot of cases, this perfection might possibly last through that first night. We forget that everyone is on a different rhythm now. The college kid has lived without rules and doesn’t know why they need them now. The younger siblings at home are mad because the college kid is trying to boss them around again without realizing that the younger ones have grown a bit. Everyone is competing for mom’s time and attention or they all just want to spend time with their friends. The decorations take work. The baking is ridiculous and Santa ends up with store bought cookie dough. Not to mention that the realities of life, death, and drama don’t pay attention to the calendar.
What can we do? First of all, realize that some of those expectations are unattainable. Give yourself a break. Have a conversation about which traditions are really necessary. Make sure everyone chips in. I will tell you that there are things that I think are super important to my kids, but if they have to help, it becomes less important to them! Make sure that everyone knows it’s okay to sequester themselves for a little bit. Let them know which events are optional and which are not. Breathe. Relax. Once we take away the expectations, we become free to enjoy the little moments.