Christmas is about peace. Yet I find in my work that the season is often a particularly difficult time of the year for many people.
One common source of stress is the expectations that people have around Christmas. Many people feel that there is something wrong with them unless they have a perfect Christmas. For example, if they have had a recent break up, or have a fall out with a family member, an uncle has too much to drink, someone is sick, or finances are tight, they can feel bad about themselves. Unlike how some people experience it, Christmas is not actually a test of performance! It’s not about how much baking you do, finding the perfect Christmas present, having all your Christmas shopping done by a certain time, or creating the perfect meal. Too many people become stressed by how much they expect themselves to do. The reality this Christmas and every day is that you are good enough, loveable, and loved, just the way you are. This is not dependent on your performance nor your situation.
I love reflecting on the difference between expectation and expectancy: two words that have the same root but have very different meanings. Expectation is a set up for disappointment, anger, and judgment. There is so much that is beyond our control. Lack of perfection in ourselves or in our circumstances only means that we are human and living in an imperfect world. It does not mean that we are not okay. We all tend to place far too much importance on things being perfect, which is not important at all; and do not place enough importance on our inner peace, an area of great value.
Expectancy, on the other hand, can be characterized by the image of a little boy approaching the Christmas tree with excitement and anticipation, having no idea what Santa brought him but trusting that it will be perfect. With the spirit of expectancy, we do not need to know the future nor have excessive expectations. Rather we can have a trust in life that things will be good, and that we will be able to manage whatever life sends us.
So my wishes for you this Christmas and every day are:
– to have the inner peace of knowing that you are loveable and good enough, that you always do your best, and
– to have the ability to live with expectancy.