This holiday season stood out from the rest.
Unlike most years, I never found that wonderful Christmas charm. In years past, I was always filled with jubilation, particularly in the days leading up to Christmas Day. However, this year, on December 25th, what I was feeling was different. Perhaps it was because I'm smack-dab in the middle between childhood and having children, or maybe due to the length of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas – a whopping 27 days. Even for the Rudolph-loving, 'Elf'-watching, cookie-making Christmas phenom, it's tough to maintain that excitement for an entire month. I certainly tried to get into the full-fledged Christmas spirit. I drank my fair share of hot chocolate, watched plenty of movies, and of course jammed out to Christmas tunes. But, for whatever reason, I simply struggled to maintain the joy I was so used to experiencing at this time of year.
I chalk it up to anticipation and high expectations. In fact, I would go so far as to say that most people feel the same way, but either cannot or do not want to express it. And, the unfortunate truth is that we carry these expectations beyond the holiday season into many other aspects of our lives - be it a big trip we have been planning, or merely a dinner date with a significant other. Yet, these expectations can truly cripple how you feel when you are in the moment. But, let's be clear, no one is to blame for these anticipatory emotions. We all feel them. Often times, in our heads we imagine the perfect candle lit dinner, with a perfect balance of great conversation and great wine. But, when we get to the restaurant, they are out of their house chardonnay and you had to park just a bit further than you would have hoped, especially on a cold, blustery day. These little things can slowly begin to affect how you feel and even alter your experience as they differ from the ideal night you had envisioned.
So how do we combat this disconnect between lofty expectations and ultimate reality?