Ahhh…the holiday season is officially upon us! Once October 1 hits, it’s game on, right? Or, at my house- September 1 marks the start. That’s when I *think* it is fall, when I have high hopes of cute pumpkins, cozy clothes, and warm coffee…but then I remember I live in the south, and it’s approximately 105 degrees outside, and fall weather is a long way off…so we circle back to October 1 as the official start of the holiday season.
October starts all the fall fun, November brings Thanksgiving, and the grand finale- Christmas and New Years.
With all these fun holidays, comes a lot of fun ideas, outings, outfits, gifts, family….and pressure, expectations, family and maybe some disappointment. If you’re anything like me, you have some expectations in your mind of how your holiday season is going to go. It’s going to be perfectly perfect, of course! The kids will have the cutest outfits, the family photos will be the very best, the trip to the pumpkin patch will be picture perfect, the crafts you make with your precious kids will be delightful, your decorations are Pinterest perfect…you get the idea!
You’ve seen the widely popular tik tok idea, or the cutest plan on Pinterest, and you’ve convinced yourself that’s how your holiday will look too, and anything less than that just will not do. But the reality is, social media isn’t real life, but your life is. Spoiler alert- at least one of your kids will probably cry during fall pictures. You may not find the cutest matching outfits at the price point you want to spend. You didn’t realize you would need a second mortgage to afford all those holiday decorations. You tend to have a controlling nature when it comes to glitter, glue, and kid crafts.
Does this mean the holiday season is ruined? Absolutely not! It means you live a real life, with real kids, in a real house that people actually live in. You probably can’t change any of those things, but you can change your expectations. Most of our disappointment in life comes from unmet or unrealistic expectations.
We expect things to go a certain way and when they don’t, we are upset. A way to temper this is to reset our expectations of what our holiday season will look like. Heavy emphasis on the “our”, or “your”. What does the holiday season look like for your family in reality? Do you actually enjoy baking cookies? If yes, great! Keep on! But, if you don’t, give yourself some grace and buy a cookie decorating kit! What’s important is the memories you make with your family- not who actually baked the cookies!
Make a list of what’s actually important to you during the holiday season. What are the top 3 most important things or events you want to accomplish? What are the parameters surrounding those- meaning, set your expectations realistically. You have a plan of what’s most important, how they are going to look, and anything extra is just icing on the cake! Remember the magic words- you can say no! You don’t have to say yes to every invitation or event you receive. Say yes to what really matters, what you’ll really enjoy- and find freedom in saying no when it’s not.
Maybe it’s helpful for you to stay off of social media during this time, so you can focus on your family and being present in the moment with them, without the added pressure of comparison and keeping up with everyone else’s highlight reels. There’s a reason it is said that comparison is the thief of joy. You were having a delightful time, until you saw what someone else was up to, and now all of a sudden your time doesn’t seem quite so delightful.