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Inside: What are your expectations for the Holidays? Do you set unrealistic expectations and then get disappointed? Here are 8 tips for you this year!

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The perfect Holiday… what do you envision?

A festive home, lavish feast, and your family laughing and having fun together?

Everyone you love is present, and no one is missing or sick?

The whole time together is nothing but bliss?!?

That’s probably how many of us imagine the perfect holiday get-together.

Maybe your holiday expectations are that everything you do makes you look like you have it all together?

Everything you touch looks like Martha Stewart was present, and you’re cool and calm fully present at the moment.

Perhaps you can maneuver through the holidays with a positive, happy mood even though inside you’re stressed and overwhelmed to the gills, but you’re able to hide it from everyone.

When Our Expectations for the Holidays Aren’t Met

The problem is: we all have expectations for the holidays.

We envision that this year it will be different. Our family will be different, and all grudges and grievances will be put behind.

The reality is when expectations aren’t met, we suffer stress, disappointment, and angst.

It becomes a yearly letdown.

Our longings are to just get it right one year- to enjoy this Holiday season fully!

And we’re hopeful that if we nail our expectations one year, the other years will follow.

If we’re dealing with sickness or even other mental health issues, we might not have the energy, and ultimately, feel like we are letting our loved ones down.

So not only do we not feel like ourselves, but we add guilt and shame to the emotions we feel.

Don’t we expect others to finally “get” us this year and offer us grace or a free-pass?!?

We might end up feeling not only disappointed in ourselves but frustrated when others don’t understand us again!

Your Most Needed Holiday

The biggest question we need to ask ourselves is “what do we really need this holiday?”

In the grand scheme of life, does it matter that the table was perfectly set or that the food was point-on?

This holiday season, we might need quiet time around a few loved family members. Or maybe even time spent away resting and relaxing.

How we enjoy our festivities doesn’t have to look like someone else’s.

So I beg you to ask yourself, “what do I need this Holiday?”

If you aren’t sure, pray about it! God tells us to ask Him for wisdom!

So ask Him what would fulfill your heart this holiday season?

Expectations for the First Holiday

When we look back to the birth of our Savior, we see an unconventional story. Mary and Joseph needed to leave their hometown and travel to Bethlehem to be counted in the census.

Let’s think about this: a woman close to delivery isn’t about to travel any distance unless she absolutely has to. Her instincts would yearn for the comforts of her own environment and her “nest.”

Once in Bethlehem, Mary delivered in a stable, which wasn’t ideal, and her delivery didn’t look like someone else’s. God knew what Mary needed and what would fulfill her, even in the stable with animals nearby.

What were Mary’s expectations? Did she ever feel regret? Or… maybe it happened better than she could ever have imagined?

Mary found contentment in her story as part of the larger story of the birth of the Savior.

This might not have happened at first, but through the years, she could see how God orchestrated the perfect holiday just for her, and it looked mighty different from others, or even her expectations.

(Luke 2:19 NLT).

19 but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often

Even though we have expectations as humans, we can pull back this year and ask God to help us find contentment and fulfillment in however we celebrate Christmas.

We might not realize what He’s doing or understand the pain and hurt we feel, but God directs it all, and someday we’ll understand.

Our families and friends will disappoint; the perfect holiday is only found in the paintings of Norman Rockwell.

Tips to Overcome our Expectations for the Holidays and Find Contentment in Our Holiday

  1. Don’t place expectations on others.
  2. Focus on what we learn and how we can grow this year during the holidays.
  3. Find joy and contentment in Jesus and not in people are things.
  4. Give up control; we never had control anyway.
  5. Set up boundaries so the family can’t cause pain and hurt.
  6. Embrace all feelings and look at ways to use them to grow.
  7. Practice more self-care this year.
  8. Focus on showing love to those who mean a lot to us this year.

We will never feel contentment and fulfillment when we place this on people.

True fulfillment comes from believing, trusting and finding joy in Jesus.

The only thing that can be perfect this holiday season is the birth of our Savior.

The perfect babe in a manger came to save us from our sins and give us the gift of eternal life. When we drop our expectations and focus on the birth of Jesus, we can celebrate this holiday season and find joy and happiness.

(Psalm 107:9 ESV).

9 For he satisfies the longing soul,

    and the hungry soul he fills with good things

Father- thank you for showing me how simple the first Holiday was. You didn’t need the perfect setting, but rather you sent Jesus amidst regular life with all its imperfections! Help me to find what you want me to see this Holiday season! Give me the wisdom and guide me to find what will fill me! I know you can only fill me, so help me find you in the midst of my life! I await the blessings of this season! Amen!

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