Why did I always feel that the holidays never fulfilled my expectations?

For those of you that celebrate the holidays, whether it is Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, or any other type of holiday, how is it that expectations always manage to creep in? In England, Christmas is a huge event with most companies closing early on Christmas Eve, partying in the evening, and then having Christmas Day and Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) to celebrate with family and friends.

I mean growing up in England the whole month of December was a celebration of getting together with friends for drinks after work, Christmas shopping for friends and family, walking around London looking at the lights, office parties, and then Christmas itself with all the trimmings. Yet why did I always feel that the holidays never fulfilled my expectations? 

How does anticipation creep in?

Looking back now I think it was the anticipation of the upcoming holidays which lead to me having high expectations. For me, planning for the holidays gave me a goal and a meaning, I was focusing on the immediate future without having to focus on the past or present. It provided a sense of optimism about the future, especially if things were not going well at the time. In my mind, it was a month of magic that hit hard when January 1st came and for the first time in a month I actually noticed the weather and just how miserable it was. 

Let’s consider this, we all engage in anticipation, whether it is anticipating an upcoming vacation, a new job, a get-together, a day out, or even a night in with a loved one. It is a part of what we do because it motivates us to get through life, but the problem is that expectations can also creep in. A scene begins to emerge in our minds of the way it is going to be and inevitably that is not how it works out. We then end up feeling..….yes you guessed it disappointed! 

So what can we do about the anticipation that leads to expectation and then disappointment?

Be flexible in how you view the situation. For example, not every moment at Christmas is going to be a happy and fun time. Let’s face it, there is the downtime after we have stuffed our faces with turkey, or that time after you have opened the gifts and then there is not much to do. Accept that we do not control every possible situation, but we do have control over how we deal with each moment as they arise. 

If there are things that you would like to do over the holidays, then put those plans into action. Friends and family you would like to see, then try and make that happen. If you are not able to be around friends or family, then make time for calling them so you can spend time with loved ones that way. 

Let’s face it, most people have their own expectations of how the holidays should be, but just try and remember that is all it is. The holidays will never be perfect, people will never act how we want them to be and most of all we are not living in a Hallmark movie.