The hardest thing about Christmas is expectations.

We expect particular gifts. We expect particular reactions to gifts. We expect a sense of delight. We expect cooperation. We expect years of contact to be compressed into minutes, and minutes to last for hours. We expect life to match “a wonderful life” where everything turns out just right. Every time, just like George Bailey understands the importance of friends every single time we watch that movie.

And, of course, our expections are frustrated almost every time. Someone pushed joking too far. Some one forgets that no one has been resting and everyone is tired and everyone has been expecting perfection.

The answer, of course, is to expect imperfection, frustration, annoyance. If we expect disappointment, we will, of course, never be disappointed.

Of course, we will then be walking the fine line of cynicism. And ironically, the whole point of Christmas is that expectations will be satisfied, that the dreams of Messiah will become real.

So I’m trying to surrender expectations that people will act anything other than human, that I can live up to anyone’s expectations–including my own–and that Christmas will be anything other than an expression of hope, of confidence that someday we will understand that the Baby who was born fit into no one’s expectations except His Father’s….fortunately.

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One response to “Expectations

  1. This post COULD be tagged, “Chris Brogan” because it plays to one of my biggest failings. At Christmastime, I am usually partially submerged in a blend of various sadnesses. One comes from expectations. Well, this year, I received almost no presents. My parents had a couple of things to give me: a travel alarm clock, an old pocketwatch that belonged to my grandfather (which looks old, but was made in Japan and doesn’t work), and a Batman book (which was lots of fun).

    I’m happy about this because it meant people didn’t have an opportunity to prove they had no idea what I was interested in. But further, it gave me a chance to realize that it’s no one’s fault. I’m tricky. I’m mercurial. So, I can’t possibly be pleased with gifts.

    So, instead, I focused on my family’s happiness, and my daughter was THRILLED. This year, she decided to invent Santa Claus. We certainly never said word one about it. But she had lots of ideas (some came from The Polar Express movie), and we found ourselves putting oats on the window sill for the deer, a cookie or two for the big guy, etc. She was AMAZED that the cookie was half eaten, and so, I’ve entered into that weird covenant.

    But she was very happy with her gifts, and she enjoyed the day very much. We haven’t talked much about religion with her yet (I’m conflicted about the whole story and method), but we did mention it was Jesus’s birthday.

    Anyhow, thanks for the post.