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Why the holidays tend to disappoint us a little - and how to handle that

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December is the month of expectations – and unfortunately, events do not always meet up to them. Guess what: there’s a lot of beauty in that.

Chances are that one of these days you’ll get disappointed. And if you do, here’s your consolation: you’re not the only one. December is the month of high expectations. Not just for our kids, who are hoping for presents and want to stay up late, for whom the stories are exciting, and who are having a hard time processing all the stimuli – for us, adults, too. December is one big promise that almost makes you expect some disappointment from the start, because real days always turn out different than the days of your dreams.

This time… will it be different?

It’s darker than the rest of the year. It’s the month of contemplation, the month before your new year’s resolutions, in which you wonder: did I live up to the last ones? Did I ever live up to resolutions? It’s the month in which you read your annual horoscope and wonder if things will ever be that good. More than in other months, you long for warmth and togetherness, but the togetherness seldom is as harmonious as you hoped. There always is at least one family member who gives you trouble, before or during the Christmas dinner. It’s the month when you realize, more than ever, that you’re alone, or that you’re together with the wrong people. Or perhaps, you’re missing some one – or you’re missing no one, but still feeling this vague pain inside your heart. It’s the month in which you’ll get presents, that might not be what you were hoping for, but admitting to that feeling would be childish.

Expectations are useless

If you recognize one of these things this month, you’re not the only one. I think, that if we could measure it, December is the ultimate month of disappointment. Spiritual lesson #1 is: expectations are useless. But practicing what you preach is something else.

I’ve done my best to keep the holidays simple this year, and still I know things will be different than I imagine them to be. Because it’s December. Spiritual lesson #2: all feelings are OK, and they will disappear sooner or later – they blow away, as suddenly as they came. Allow yourself to be disappointed, and the feeling will change into happiness. Or at least, into something else. When expectations have gone, and disappointment too, life is fine. Even in December. It can actually be very good.

Text: Pauline Bijster - Photo: Josh Boot