Holiday Expectations

The other day I was disappointed because tickets to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer were sold out. Tragic, right? Then we didn’t go to the tree lighting ceremony or the Christmas parade because it was pouring down rain. Gasp!

And I was thinking, “man, our kids are really missing out on all of the holiday fun this year.” I was on a slippery slope to wondering if my kids were going to need therapy because we weren’t maxed out on holly jolliness this year.

Yes, looking back, I can see how that attitude was a bit pathetic.

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Here’s the kicker. My kids didn’t ask to go to see Rudolph or the parade. You know what they asked for? Family movie or game night. Yep.

That’s when I realized these expectations of getting in the holiday spirit and what we should be doing during the holidays were MINE. They weren’t my children’s.

My kids actually had it right. (Don’t you love it when that happens?) Spending quality time together, showing one another love, being present in this very moment of their young lives – that’s what this season is all about. We didn’t need to attend one single, stinking holiday event to do that!

So mama needed to adjust her perspective. Always humbling. And always difficult.

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Just last night my husband and I were making sure we had the Christmas presents all lined out, with an even number of gifts for each kid. Heaven forbid one of them gets one more gift than the other! 😉

I knew my son was going to freak out with excitement over his gifts. My daughter – well, she doesn’t ever freak out about anything. But, I wasn’t (and still am not) convinced that we got her anything that she’s going to be over-the-moon about.

And then I remembered what my kids have been playing with for the last week. A sword and ax that I made them in 30 seconds out of a cereal box and a “log” from my son’s toy log truck. I’ll just wait while you make a mad dash to “pin” these amazing creations. (insert sarcasm here.)

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Again, it dawned on me, the number and price of the gifts we give our kids – those are expectations we put on ourselves. We can go through all that anguish, we can get into debt, we can have a miserable time fighting the lines and all our kids end up playing with are the boxes the toys come in. Or in my case, the cereal boxes cut into shapes and stapled and taped to a log.

I certainly have not come to peace with these shifts in attitude, but I’m trying. I know I’m definitely a lot happier when I focus on what’s really important in this life.

And every once in awhile, it’s a good thing to remember that this parenting gig is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. Each step of the way we can try to be a little better, a little gentler, a little more compassionate, a little more thoughtful, forgiving, patient and kind. And if we do these things, I’m confident that when we do cross the finish line, we will see the fruits of our labor.

Happy Christmas to you all.

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