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Thanksgiving and Christmas are beautiful holidays filled with family, good food and fun. At least that’s what we all want them to be. Like it or not, we all develop expectations about the holidays and our family.

I really enjoy the “Lifetime Christmas movies” during this season. The plots are easy. Holiday decorations are fabulous and nothing is spared to make inside and outside super fabulous. Let’s not forget the gorgeous characters wearing the latest fashions! The best best part is that the ending is always HAPPY! That’s why we keep watching year after year!

The problem is that holidays and family rarely come about without some kind of “hiccups”. Someone will get sick or run late. One of the dishes will be overcooked or spilled. And, the worst scenario is that someone gets in an argument!

It is stressful when our expectations during the holidays are not met. Here are some tips to help reduce your stress and help you enjoy the season.

1. Set Realistic Expectations

Go ahead and accept the fact that no holiday gathering will be perfect. In fact, perfection shouldn’t be the goal. See the “hiccups” as opportunities to be flexible. Even the bad stuff, like a burnt turkey, will create a memory. Oh yeah, you can’t control or change others. You are only responsible for you!

2. Take Charge Beforehand

Be proactive and address concerns about certain family members, conversations, or current drama. Set the tone that you desire to gather and enjoy the family fellowship and focus on having fun together. There will be other times to address family issues.

3. Stay Balanced

The holidays are a short season. If things don’t work out the way you wanted, it’s not the end of the world. Remember all the good things you have in your life and let gratitude take over. What really matters most is family, friends and relationships.

4. Don’t Overcommit

It’s easy to let the expectations of others push you toward tasks you just don’t want to do. Be honest. Set good boundaries. Offer what you can do and move on. Take care of yourself and guard your time. If you don’t manage it, someone else will do it for you!

5. Commercial Hysteria

Finally, don’t let the over commercialized idea of the holidays be the foundation for your expectations. This mania sold to us in stores and on TV, drives us to spend too much, eat too much, and try to do too much!

Give thought to what the holidays really mean to you. Determine what things or traditions are important. Pursue what is right and healthy for you and your family. Don’t fall into the comparison game! No one’s life is perfect! Be kind with yourself and others.

We are all flawed and imperfect. Those flaws don’t cease to exist during the holidays. Know your people. Love your people. Connect with your people. Then you will not be disappointed by your expectations during the holidays.

To read more information about managing your expectations here is a link to an article by the American Psychological Association.

collect moments not things quote
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