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Letting Go of Holiday Expectations

Lights are twinkling on trees, carols are lilting over loudspeakers, and department store Santa’s are spreading holiday cheer.  You should be happy, right?  Instead, you just feel stressed…and maybe even a little depressed.  Many times, we set our holiday expectations are so high that you can’t possibly reach them, and unlike that elf on a shelf, we can’t just appear and disappear at will.

Lightening your mental load of common expectations may relieve some of the holiday pressure and, possibly, set your spirit free.

Myth #1: Everyone should be happy…all the time.

Commercials show happy, smiling families opening the front door to their festively decorated home to welcome family and friends.  But frequently, real life isn’t like that.  Rifts between family members, illness, death, financial difficulties, joblessness, all create stress and feelings of sadness.  This season, instead of getting wrapped up in what you should be feeling, accept that you situation is unique and allow yourself to take one day at a time.  Breathe, and accept the moments of joy when they come.

Myth #2: I’m going to create the perfect (fill in the blank).

Forget about perfection.  Consciously let it go.  If you strive for perfection you’ll almost never get there.  Instead, embrace the imperfections.  Let the kids hang all the decorations on the bottom branches of the tree, plan simpler meals in lieu of multi-course feasts, decorate the house because you enjoy it – not because you feel that you “have” to do it.

Myth #3: They’re going to love this gift!

Some people spend hours in the mall agonizing over finding the perfect gift for that special person.  They’re setting themselves up for disappointment if the person opening the gift is not completely overwhelmed.  Today, there’s so much pressure on gift-giving and so little on gratitude.  In reality, if you’re trying so hard to find a gift for someone, that person probably has just about everything they need.  More and more people are finding that giving experiences, instead of a physical gift, is often more appreciated, and more enjoyed than receiving a “thing”.  And it need not be expensive!  Take inspiration from what your special person loves to do – for the nature lover, book a Saturday and go for a hike and treat her to lunch.  For the movie buff – purchase tickets for a local theater and go out for coffee afterwords.  Enjoying the moment and shared experiences deepen relationships and are much more rewarding than objects…and memories are much easier to store than sweaters!!


Categories: Ann Quasarano, Practical Advice

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