Still adjusting expectations

I wrote this after Christmas in 2019. It feels worth sharing today.


True confession. We bought a new Christmas tree this year. It’s 4.5 feet tall, but we have it on an old wood box, so from the street it looks like we have a 7 foot tree.

We bought a new tree rather than go into the attic and haul down the tree and lights and decorations and cards from previous years that we know we should sort through but haven’t. Somehow, for this year, it was easier to not move the freezer to put up the ladder to go to the attic to move the boxes. The combination of physical and emotional energy was more that we wanted to spend.

A few days before Christmas, Nancy remembered that last year, when putting away the decorations, she had filled two shoe boxes with ornaments for Andrew and Hope, the results of kindergarten craft sessions and Sunday school projects and trips. On Christmas Eve, our adult children decorated our small tree by walking through memories.

We usually do a treasure hunt, with clues and driving and gifts that will benefit someone who needs them. This year, Andrew created a crossword puzzle where the answers took us through family history.

And the world is fine.

I think about the chaos and pressure of Christmases past, as we struggled to get everything down, everything up, everything ready. Things were nice. Things were decorative. We smiled. But we also struggled with the anxiety.

I’m not philosophically opposed to Christmas, to celebration, to decor. I am, however, increasingly comfortable with making adjustments to expectations, adjustments which match the current stream of life.

All of the announcements in the months before and the day of the birth of Jesus spoke about not being afraid and forgiveness and shepherding and a savior. Not one talked about decorating standards. Not one angel provided a script for a romantic movie, a perfume commercial, or a video clip where everyone is home from everywhere.

As we explore what it means to love God and to love one another, I think that. perhaps, we could remind ourselves of not being afraid and forgiveness and shepherding and a savior.

Be at peace.


We’re using the same small tree this year. And it’s not too late to find some help in  Giving a Year Meaning: A Healing Journal for Advent 2020,. If you order it, let me know and I’ll send you the PDF for while you are waiting for the delivery.