By now, the preparation for Christmas Day has reached its absolute peak. The last minute gifts are being bought and grocery lists are being prepared for the holiday feast, in my case I just got the last gift, which was some bespoke menswear gifts I got for my lovely husband. While preparing for the more obvious aspects of Christmas, we can also prevent post holiday blues by preparing for the emotional aspects of the day itself.
What, exactly, causes post-holiday blues? For many, the simple reason is that the day doesn’t fulfill expectations. Disappointment leads to the big let-down that many of us feel the day after Christmas (or any big event), and the best way to avoid it is simple: lower your expectations.
Unrealistic expectations can lead to repeated disappointment, but the good news is that “lowering the bar” can reduce, if not eliminate post holiday blues and help you achieve your goals of peace on earth and good will toward men. Some examples may include:
- If your family has never given you a standing ovation when you present your Christmas feast, the standing rib roast with tinsel on the bones probably won’t bring them to their feet either.
- The touch screen Blackberry will probably not make your sullen teenage daughter wrap her arms around you and say, “I love you Daddy.”
- If Uncle Bob drinks too much every year, he’s probably going to this year.
So, what’s the secret? For me, it lies in using some self awareness and pinpointing what disappoints me year after year and adjusting my own expectations to meet reality.
I recently realized that my wife doesn’t like getting things that weren’t on her Christmas list. This “light bulb moment” came after I planned a trip for her and her girlfriend tailored to suit interests I knew she had. The trip received a lukewarm reception, and she wound up giving the gift away. Since then, my expectations are much closer to reality. I get links to websites selling the gifts she wants, I order them, and everyone is happy.
So where do your disappointments lie? What are the patterns? Family relationships? Gift giving? Gift receiving? Even if your expectations seem reasonable to you, (no food fight at the dinner table), if they consistently aren’t met, then they are, by definition, too high.
If we can stop expecting a perfect Christmas, with perfect food, perfect family, perfect gifts, then we can actually enjoy the day with festive music, good food, and, even, Uncle Bob.
Where have your expectations of the big day not met with reality? Share your experiences here on the Slow Down FAST blog!