Expectation – Reality = Disappointment
Part of what makes the Christmas season difficult for many people is that everybody’s expectations are so high. We are inundated with the message that Christmas should be “the most wonderful time of the year.” If that’s not your reality, you are bound to feel disappointed.
For Christian mothers especially, there can be the added pressure to not only make Christmas fun and memorable, but also spiritually meaningful for our families. We want so much to have our kids focus on the significance of Jesus being born, rather than the materialism of the culture at large. We can drive ourselves into a frenzy trying to make that happen.
So what is the solution? Lowering our expectations. I don’t just mean cutting back on the decorating, and the shopping, and the holiday busyness. We need to lower our expectations regarding just how wonderful we believe this time of year is supposed to feel.
“But,” you may be tempted to protest, “we’re talking about Jesus’ birthday!” To suggest that it could be anything other than a fantastic celebration sounds irreverent.
For years, I struggled with those feelings. I believed that Christmas was supposed to be fun, for me and everyone around me. I battled monumental disappointment and feelings of guilt when I didn’t find myself bubbling over with joy during the holiday season.
Then one year I realized a truth that transformed my outlook: Christmas wasn’t very “fun” for Jesus.
The Savior was born in a barn because no one could make room for him at the local inn. The glowing manger scenes we see on Christmas cards don’t reflect the cold, and the poverty, and the rejection inherent in those circumstances. Jesus humbled himself and became a servant. Not very fun at all.
Recognizing this, I am able to make peace with the realities of my own life during the Christmas season. Everything is not merry and bright. This holiday won’t be picture perfect, because even the first Christmas wasn’t picture perfect.
When I lay aside my over-the-top expectations, I release myself from trying to conjure up joy. I don’t have to put on an act or put pressure on myself or others to have fun. I can be real with Jesus. He understands. Christmas wasn’t fun for him, either.