I remember it very vividly. It was Christmas Eve and I was dressed in my holiday best for dinner and drinks with family and friends, then off to my favorite tradition at the time - the 11:00 pm candlelight service at church. (This was before I had kids. Now itʼs a miracle if we make it to the 4:30 service on time, with everyone clothed and wearing shoes.)
At the time I was single and owned a Chocolate Lab named Truman. On this particular Christmas Eve, Truman chose to give me the gift of a trip to the Emergency Vet Hospital. The kind of place where they take all your money at the start, just to examine the pet - then theyʼll let you know if you need to mortgage your home in order to pay for an actual diagnosis and treatment. And double that because itʼs a holiday. Truman was a good dog but he made bad choices. In typical Labrador fashion, he chose to eat a giant box of homemade cookies and fudge that had been delivered to my house that day. He dug right through the cardboard mailer and into the tupperware container, and he proceeded to have himself a holiday cookie party, probably swallowing most of them whole. As you can imagine, that didnʼt play out so well later on - for him or my carpet.
A trip to the vet was not on the agenda for the evening. I was wearing my cute shoes for crying out loud. Family, friends, and dinner were waiting. I did my hair! I wanted to light the cute candle and sing Silent Night.
But thatʼs not what happened. Truman and I (and a few vet technicians) celebrated Christmas together that year. It wasnʼt great.
That was NOT how I expected to spend my Christmas.
Often times our expectations can set us up for disappointment and frustration. And letʼs be honest, our expectations surrounding the holidays can get a little crazy. Obviously a trip to the vet is out of our control, but what about all the little things that get us in a tizzy? Like when your babysitter cancels right before your favorite holiday party (true story), or that perfect gift is set to arrive AFTER Christmas. You burned the sugar cookies - cue the gnashing of teeth!
And can we talk about ALL the expectations surrounding our families. What if our gatherings play out not like the Hallmark movie scene, but more like the Griswolds. What if itʼs NOT a white Christmas!
Letʼs also mention ALL those expectations and all the pressure we put on ourselves! Iʼm not saying we need to lower our expectations, but what if we let go of how we think things should be. What if we didnʼt let unrealistic expectations drive our efforts. What if we just settle in and see what happens?
My husband and I are from Texas. For both of us, our holidays were spent with LOTS of extended family. Every year, without fail, there was a gluttonous meal that consisted of
turkey and ham, and ALL the southern fixinsʼ. The meal was the focus - the meal was the event. We entered marriage thinking thatʼs how you “do” Christmas. As we started growing our family here in Utah, we realized that wasnʼt really our thing.
We just thought it was what we were supposed to do.
So the next year, we changed our expectations and decided to create our own, new tradition. We did what any Texan living in Utah would do, we grilled steak and shrimp. It was amazing - and so easy! Now itʼs what we do every year, and our kids love it too! Itʼs definitely not what I expected or how I pictured it would be.
Let go of some of those expectations this week - on yourself and those around you. See what happens.
It could just be the best Christmas ever.
Skis and Greetings & Happy Holidays from all of us at the Beau Collective!