We all have certain expectations of how Christmas Day will go. Our list might go something like this:
-Everyone turns up at the time I told them to.
-The table will be set perfectly and look beautiful.
-You have put a month into preparing the menu and the food, so it had better be perfect and everyone needs to tell you that it is and eat all the food on their plate to prove it.
-Everyone will be polite and get along well for the day.
-Everyone will love the presents you buy for them, and will give you exactly what you want.
-You need to see every relative on Christmas Day, even if it means you need to exhaust yourself and go to 3 different places.
-The list goes on and on
The problem with having these types of perfectionistic expectations is that you are setting yourself up to fail and to be miserable for the day. These expectations are irrational and unreasonable. The chance that everything will go perfectly on the day is zero, because you are dealing with people and things that are outside of your control.
What can you do so that you can still enjoy Christmas Day? The best thing you can do is to change your expectations. Try to work out what is reasonable and realistic based on past experience and your knowledge of other people.
- You can find out how others want the day to go, and do your best to satisfy the majority of people. You can’t please everyone – its impossible. You are setting yourself up for failure if you try.
- If you are in charge of the food, you can let others know what time it will be served, and then it’s up to them if they want to be late and eat left-overs.
- You don’t need to see every relative on Christmas Day. The sky will not fall in if this doesn’t happen. It’s OK to plan to see some of them in the weeks before or after Christmas. It’s also OK to plan NOT to see some relatives if you don’t get along.
- If Uncle Bob has got drunk every Christmas for the last 20 years, it is unrealistic to expect that this year will be any different. If 2 family members have been at war for 5 years, don’t expect them to make peace just to please you. You can’t change other people. What you CAN change is how you react to the situation. You can choose to get upset about it and let it spoil your day, or you can ignore it and spend most of your time talking to those whose company you enjoy.
- You can do your best, and then let go of the outcome. It’s out of your control. Trying to control the uncontrollable will take lots of your time and energy and end up making you feel unhappy and depleted. You can’t control the waves on the ocean, so why would you try?
Write your own list of what you expect from Christmas Day and the holiday season. Look at each point and decide whether each expectation is realistic and reasonable. How can you change your expectations and your plans so you can relax and enjoy the festive season?