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Nothing wraps up quicker than the day after New Years….

From Halloween to New Years is always a ride.  The holidays, the colder weather, it’s all so exciting.  And always disappointing…

I don’t know what it is about the holidays, or who set the expectations, or who screwed up the reason for the season, but here we are.  Just a week away and I’m seeing posts all over Facebook about family issues; who’s going where, who’s not talking to who, how families are divided…and broken hearts…

Every.stinking.year….

The biggest disappointment in life…is expectations….

Why do we do this to ourselves every damn year?  We hope for that perfect holiday where all family comes together in love and excitement to break bread together and share gifts and live happily every after… Am I alone in this?

I’m curious how many of my readers have this perfect scenario every year in their home with no issues?

I’m a photographer, blessed to do what I do, but I know real life.  Families come together this time of year for their annual family pictures, and what I hear from so many of my clients is, “This was hard to coordinate because everyone is going in different directions”.

Rounding people up is like herding cats.  It’s laborious and often times frustrating.  At least at Christmas, we all know that is one day we “have” to set aside…but what to do with it…therein lies the problem.

I am one of five kids.  We haven’t all spent a Christmas together in god knows how long.  Everyone lives off in different cities or states and they have their own families to coordinate.  Years ago, we had everything set up with visiting one set of parents on Christmas Eve, and the second set on Christmas Day.  But a few years ago, we decided to change things; instead of leaving our house, we decided to stay put, and host.  My husband is an avid foodie and loves to cook, I love to bake and we have parents close to us, so it makes it easier on them to get here.  That decision didn’t go over well, at all.  It kind of divided the family and really sucked.

That said, having Christmas here isn’t an easy decision.  It’s a LOT of work, and usually falls on my shoulders.  I think my kids and husband feel that I love the season and therefore I can do all the wrapping and cleaning myself.  Sure, hubs says to get a cleaner for the house…but you have to actually CLEAN before the cleaners get here, so that isn’t an option.  Still, stress and all, I muddle my way through, the house gets as clean as I can get it, usually a spit shine, and then the day comes and hubs is in the kitchen preparing his feast.  It all works out in the end.

The stress leading up to the season is the worst.  Not just for me, but for most that I know.  It’s last minute scrambling because you forgot someone, or someone decides to show up and you don’t want them to feel left out.

It’s all done in love with good intent, I mean, we ALL want that perfect day.  But over the years, and dare I say decades, it’s all gotten away from us.

For me, the joy is literally in just having everyone together.  For my husband, the joy is in preparing a meal that everyone will love.  It would be nice if the ideal happened; everyone together under one roof and loving each other.  But as we get on in years, it’s just not the way it is.

Life isn’t perfect.  It’s messy.  Things don’t always go the way we plan, but somehow we get through it.  I have learned SO MUCH this year about expectations and not letting myself get disappointed.  I have learned to appreciate the moments that are awesome.  I have learned to do my best to accept what is.  I don’t have to be happy about it, but the more I resist it, the more pain I have to deal with.

Last night I went to a holiday showcase for Chorale singers.  I went by myself.  My husband would rather have a root canal than go, and kids were off and not likely interested anyways.  I had a vested interest in going as I knew many of the singers. I got there very early and walked across the street to Starbucks to get a tea.  It was cold outside and I had 30 minutes to kill.  When I got back I saw a couple taking pictures of each other with the decorations and I offered to take a picture of them together.  They gladly accepted.  The doors opened, and I found a seat.   Two ladies sat next to me and we briefly chatted, and then the performance started. I sat and watched the whole performance mesmerized at the talent and the beauty of the sound.  I was so proud of that whole group and the conductor.

The ideal in this would have been someone with me enjoying the performance.  And if I had had enough time, I would have found someone.  But the truth is, I didn’t want to miss it, and going alone places doesn’t scare me.  I made do with what I had.

After the performance, I went up to the singers who were my classmates and congratulated them on an amazing performance.  The conductor, who is also my teacher, was pleased to hear how much I loved it.  The joy on his face showed his passion for what he does.

You can’t always dictate how things will go, but you can do your best to just enjoy what you have.  Put the expectations aside and just roll with what you got.

On the way home from the showcase, I took a detour through some neighborhoods and enjoyed the lights.  Yes, things are better with friends and maybe I will go back.  But if I don’t, I’m happy that I didn’t let anything hold me back!

Happy Holidays!