Thursday, December 26, 2013

Choosing Expectations

It's the day after Christmas. The house is quiet. Alan has gone to work. Claire is off on a pet sitting job, and Sam is still snoozing away.



There's been a lot of stress in our pre-holiday household -- facing our first Christmas without Byron. Sam is in the middle of changing colleges. Claire just graduated from college a couple of weeks ago and has been searching for her first full time job. Add to that the regular stressors of the season and my own familial issues, and we had the potential for a huge, unpleasant Christmas Day.

Three weeks ago I wrote about my concerns for the season. About wanting to feel excited and upbeat, but instead feeling a bit cynical and working to lower my expectations. And here's what I discovered. Really taking the time to determine what was important to me for the season helped everyone else have a better season as well.

I let go of Norman Rockwell/Martha Stewart visions. I accepted that the Publix and Apple commercials, while lovely to watch, are not reality. By focusing more on Advent and, oddly enough, my own wants and wishes, instead of trying to make it all perfect for everyone else, I had a calmer, more relaxed, and appreciative day than I have had in years. 

It wasn't perfect. 

My chocolate chess pie baked all over my oven on Tuesday, so I had to clean the oven instead of baking Cranberry Orange Nut bread, but I'll make it for New Year's Day instead. And the pie was ugly, but still delicious, and no one seemed to care. The Milk Salad wasn't the best one I've ever made, but it happens. The Cinnamon Eve Buns tasted heavenly, but fell apart when Claire turned them out of the pan. 

But my kids liked their presents more than I had expected (even though we toned it way down this year), and I even managed to surprise Alan with a couple of gifts and lift his spirits. We went to the in-laws and had a pretty good time. It didn't run like clockwork, and was actually quite chaotic, but I chose not to stress it. I chose.

That's been the key phrase for me this year -- choosing what to take on as my responsibility. Choosing to make my wants and wishes as important as everyone else's. And accepting that I can't make everything work out perfectly for everyone else, because it's not my job and I don't have that kind of power.

So it's the day after Christmas. My kitchen is clean. The wrapping paper is all picked up from the living room floor. I got some lovely goodies. Ate some pretty good food. Helped some other people have a good time. Talked and laughed with my kids and husband. And I never got angry or yelled a single time. 

Merry Christmas 2013. It was good to see you.

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