Surviving the Holidays: Managing Expectations

Last year, as I was frantically finishing final edits to my book: The Fat Chick Works Out!  I had to accept that I had neither time nor money for a huge Christmas tree.  Even if I was in a position to shell out over $100 for a nice tree (California pricing–sheesh!) I didn’t have time to even go to the lot and pick it out, so much drag it home, prop it up and put hundreds of ornaments on it.  I had to accept that it just wasn’t going to happen.  So I took out my tiny little pretend Christmas tree, slapped one string of lights on it, and put on about a dozen little teeny ornaments.  And you know what, it wasn’t so bad.  It was disappointing, because I had expected the giant live Christmas tree.  But it’s cheery little presence kept me company in the wee, dark hours before dawn as I sat next to the fireplace and did final edits.  And I learned.

This year, I never even thought about that huge Christmas tree.  I knew I would be even busier this year than I was last year.  I didn’t win the lottery, so the big tree was probably too expensive anyway.  So I set my expectations for my tiny tree, and this year it’s making me happy with no disappointment and no regrets.  My tiny tree is enough.  I am satisfied.

I think so many times during the holidays, we make ourselves crazy with totally unreasonable expectations.  We think we need to uphold every holiday tradition that anybody in our family has ever had.  We think we should give everybody everything they ever wanted for Christmas, and even a few things they didn’t ask for.  And everybody is going to get along at all the family gatherings, and the kids will all be perfectly behaved and our holiday will look just like Mr. Rockwell’s paintings.  And naturally, we’ll lose 30 pounds between Christmas and Thanksgiving so that we can fit into that slinky little black dress we’ve been dreaming of. Because we need to make this the BEST CHRISTMAS EVER!  Ho, ho, freaking, ho.

And  of course, it never quite works out like that, does it?  When you’re standing in long lines the day after Christmas returning presents that the kids didn’t like after all (and you couldn’t afford anyway)  you cringe at this year’s NEW crop of holiday memories complete with grandma passing out after too much eggnog, nobody talking to Judy because of what she said about our Susan, and a mess that you couldn’t shift with a sherman tank.  And the little black dress?  Honey all the Spanx in the world ‘aint gonna get you there.  Frankly, it’s depressing.

But does it have to be?  What if you accept that you can’t please everybody.  What if you accept that you can’t change people?  What if you accept that this crazy, messy, imperfect, noisy and less fiscally irresponsible Christmas will be YOUR Christmas and get over it?  Can’t meet old holiday traditions?  Make new ones!  Can’t buy expensive presents?  Give of your heart and your mind and your time.  Got a crazy family?  Enjoy them while you still have them.  Gained 2 pounds since Thanksgiving?  Get a great pair of comfy but gorgeous leggings and ROCK ‘EM!

That’s my Christmas gift to you my love.  Go out and have a personalized, imperfect and perhaps more than slightly crazy holiday season.

Love,
The Fat Chick

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One thought on “Surviving the Holidays: Managing Expectations

  1. Pingback: The Holiday Magnifying Glass | The Fat Chick Sings

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