While I have written about the GREAT ANTICIPATION and wonder that surrounds the Christmas season, I have not written about anticipation’s twin, expectation. If there was one thing that I could eliminate, particularly at Christmas, it would be expectation. While expectation can be useful in certain situations like disciplining children or setting goals for one’s self, expectation tries to be equally as impressive during the season of Christmas when often it wreaks more havoc than it does generating good feelings.
Anticipation (used in a positive manner here) requires a waiting period that suggests something is going to happen. Think back to your childhood and the events that carried great anticipation. Two such events come to mind for me: One was waiting for the post-man to deliver the mail. Every day, I would anticipate his arrival, and if it were my lucky day, I might receive a letter just for me. The other was getting to roam freely in my neighborhood over the two-day weekend without much parental involvement. Looking forward to or anticipating the sheer bliss of freedom was enough to carry me through the school week. The anticipation made the events more special and more significant.
Twins can be hard to separate, and I am afraid it holds true here as well. The longer we anticipate, the more expectation builds, and what was once pure anticipation becomes “colored” with expectation. Isn’t this what dampens the spirit of Christmas the most… expectations? I know that in my own anticipation of Christmas, my expectations of what I want it to be become MUCH LARGER. When my expectations are not met, my joy diminishes.
Whether our expectations are self-generated or whether, in fact, they are placed on us by others, expectation can, and often does, obscure the poetic beauty of being present in the moment. If we are dwelling on disappointment, then we cannot be fully present to those who surround us. I do not want to lose the joy of anticipation so I am guessing the key here is to “scale back” the expectations … a life long lesson in progress.