Managing Christmas Expectations
It’s Christmas time! It’s a time to gather with family and friends to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ! It’s a time filled with laughter, love, and holiday cheer!
It’s also a time when stressors can abound, when tempers can flare, and when plans can go south. A time for traditions filled with expectations and hopes that can often result in undue stress, conflict, and disappointment. How do we cope when the reality of our Christmas celebration doesn’t match our expectations?
One healthy way we can deal with the stressors of any holiday is to use the mindfulness principle of “Beginner’s Mind.” It is attempting to see things as they are, in the here and now, as if for the first time—with an unbiased and unprejudiced look. It’s about bringing no preconceived perceptions or expectations to your current experience, regardless of any past experiences.
The fact of the matter is, the current experience IS a new experience. It is NOT past experiences. So go ahead and make plans and schedule events…but know that they will never be exactly like past experiences, good or bad. Look at your current experience as if you’re experiencing it for the very first time. Only then can you have a more genuine experience of what’s happening now, untainted by neither great nor negative experiences of the past.
As the hymn writer says, “Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; naught be all else to me, save that Thou art; Thou my best Thought, by day or by night, Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.”
Here is a prayer for Christmas: “Dear heavenly Father, help me to let go of things in my past that might still affect how I see things today. Give me patience to accept the things I can’t change and trust that you will work them out for the good of those who love you. Give me courage to see today through your eyes of grace and with your vision. Help me see others the way that you see them, Lord, and not the way my sinful flesh sees them. For to you be the glory, honor, and praise, both now, and forevermore. Amen.”
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).