Christmas is my absolute favourite time of year. I love it when everything is so magical. The lights are up and twinkling. All the food is perfect. The presents are all meaningful and wrapped beautifully and under the tree by December 1st. The kids are perfectly behaved and grateful and say all the thank you’s at the right time. There is no family drama and everyone is happy with my plans. We all have the perfect mix of fun and remembering the reason for the season, including advent devotionals. And there is a corny Christmas movie or two thrown in there just as the cherry on top.
Oh, your Christmas doesn’t look like this? Ok, good. Because mine never does either! But I want it so badly. I just love it so much and I strive to make every part perfect. But I’ve learned a very important lesson in the past couple of years.
Expectations ruin everything.
And oh do I have them about Christmas – expectations everywhere.
My expectations can stress me out to the point that I’m the one ruining everything. But when I can let them go and roll with it, I’m less stressed and things go so much better. Like this past weekend, we planned to kind of open the Christmas season. My parents were coming to take us out for breakfast and that was lovely. Then we were going to go to the Santa Clause parade and see the lighting of the lights downtown, followed by decorating the tree. Only it rained. Like, poured rain all day. And none of us wanted to stand in the rain and cold. I was quite disappointed that my perfect opening ceremonies to Christmas was ruined. And there may have been years past that I made everyone go and stand in the rain! But instead, we found something else to do, and still decorated the tree. And it was so much more fun than standing in the rain.
That’s just a simple story, but we can have much bigger expectations. Like family peace, or a whole family, or financial issues. Maybe peace on earth has you wishing for peace with a person in your life. Maybe joy to the world has you wishing for joy in your spirit. Maybe the twinkling lights have you wishing you could feel like you weren’t sitting in darkness.
What if we determined that this year we’re not going to let our expectations run away with us.
Its ok if not everything is perfect. Its ok if we don’t have time for that magical experience with our kids. Its ok if a couple of those gifts are not the most meaningful. We can acknowledge that Christmas is hard – it comes with grief and drama and kids who are over tired and over sugared. The real meaning of Christmas is simply to celebrate the joy of our salvation. And if you’ve accomplished that, you’ve won at Christmas. Even if your house doesn’t look like a Pinterest board.
This year I’ve determined – I will work hard and still try to accomplish all the things, but if they don’t happen, Christmas will not be ruined. And I will be ok.