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Holiday Expectations

As the holidays approach, I find myself wondering how I'm going to accomplish all I expect of myself. I expect to have perfect presents under the tree for an astounding number of people who will be visiting from out of town, besides the usual round of gifts for my children, immediate family, close friends and significant others, such as teachers, school staff, hair dresser, manicurist, etc. Added to the gift buying frenzy are countless trips to the grocery and food specialty stores for the feasts I expect to prepare, again for countless people I am expected to entertain during these holidays.

What's one person to do when it becomes overwhelming and seems there's never going to be enough time, resources or energy to cope? Well, I'm not sure I have the answer. What I'm thinking of doing is escaping to an undisclosed location to save my sanity, health and well-being. Naturally, this isn't an option 'I hold the holidays too dear and my daughters have come to expect huge fanfare on these special days. I have set up their expectations of me, just as I have set up the expectations of myself that I might not be able to pull off this year due to an unstable health condition and the subsequent lack of mobility I've been accustomed to in years past. Mostly, I just want to be able to get it all done, as I have every other year, which is no longer an option so I am left to ponder my upcoming fate with the dread of not performing or of falling short.

I suspect the 'expectations' will somehow be met, only because I couldn't bear to let my children down during the most important season for meeting expectations. And I have set myself up for all of this, gladly, willingly, never expecting anything as mundane as 'ill health' to interfere with our rituals and festivities. Never mind that this health condition was caused primarily by trying to cram five weeks worth of expectations into a ten day period when I over-booked myself with work, volunteering at my children's schools at the same time I was expected to take care of many other obligations and promises to family and friends. I think the lesson here is to relinquish the expectations of myself and scale down to a more manageable holiday routine, like it or not.

Alas, there will come a time when we parents are no longer able to perform the myriad duties and routines we've created for our families, for any number of reasons, and we will need to give up control of making sure everyone's holiday expectations are met. This could come in the form of a health crisis, monetary crisis, time-crunch crisis 'take your pick. This is the time to delegate the responsibility of the be-all, do-all parent and shift our focus to relishing our time with family and friends more so than relishing the accomplishments of others and our expectations of us. We are in the midst of a joyous and sacred time of year when our hearts and minds should be filled with love and good will, not with a frenzy of get-it-done anxiety.

I wish you all joyful holiday season, filled with love and happiness. Give yourselves a break and allow one or more of the details to slip by if need be. Being there for your family in sound mind, body and spirit is ultimately more important.

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