As I sit down to write this I am distracted by my giddy excitement for the holidays. I am listening to Christmas music (I recommend the Jack Johnson Holiday station on Pandora), checking my email for the latest holiday promotions, browsing Pinterest for a few festive recipes, and letting my mind run wild with anticipation.
I’m picturing beautifully wrapped gifts piled high under our tree, a dusting of sparkly white snow on the ground, and the feeling of pure bliss that will be felt as I snuggle my husband next to a warm toasty fire while sipping hot cocoa and watching “It’s a Wonderful Life,” after our toddler drifts off to sleep on Christmas eve.
Here’s the deal. Holidays are my jam! Anytime there is a reason to gather and celebrate, to create traditions, to decorate and dress and bake in a unifying theme, or to generally be festive… I’m IN. This time of year I’m in full-on Christmas mode, I love the simple joy of listening to carols while decorating our tree. I smile everyday that I drive home and see our house glowing brightly with neatly strung lights. I giggle with our toddler as we search for that silly elf. I enjoy watching holiday movies. I spend hours and hours shopping for bargains and selecting gifts for our loved ones. I spend hours and hours baking goodies to share at family gatherings, deliver to colleagues, and donate to the less fortunate.
I’ve always managed to enjoy the chaos of the holiday season and bring my own dreamy plans to fruition. But it’s getting harder and harder to execute these plans.
And when your expectations are high, it’s all too easy to end up discouraged and downhearted.
Yes, having a child has limited my free time significantly, but that’s not the issue here. I’m going to be blunt… It’s my husband! Holidays are just NOT his jam. I can’t for the life of me understand why he doesn’t get excited about this stuff, but he just doesn’t. He’ll go through the motions, he’ll pose for the Christmas card photo and drink the eggnog, but one Christmas carol too many and he’s done for. I’m beginning to think that he could completely skip holidays and not even be upset about it. Traditions don’t seem to resonate with him, he can spend a maximum of two minutes brainstorming thoughtful gifts for our loved ones, and to top it off, he literally avoids eating the goodies that I make (as if he’s suddenly a health nut). The guy literally fell asleep while decorating the Christmas tree this year. I mean COME ON!
All jokes aside, managing expectations is a crucial part of a successful relationship, and I’m making a concentrated effort to do a better job of aligning our holiday expectations this year.
5 Tips For Holiday Harmony with a Grinch
1. Sit down and have a chat.
Don’t beat around the bush; just make it clear that you need to come to an agreement about expectations to avoid frustration down the road. I suggest this is done over warm cookies and hot cocoa, but I’m willing to bet my hubby would prefer to hash things out over beer and tacos. Both options will suffice.
2. Write the holiday gatherings on a calendar.
Make sure everyone can easily see it. (The bigger and bolder, the better!) This way the chaotic weekends do not come as a surprise, and your loved one is able to look ahead and plan accordingly. If he still has shopping to do, projects to complete, or was planning to use his weekends for a personal hobby, he will not be thrown off by seemingly “last minute” plans (which of course, have been planned for weeks and likely discussed various times when he was clearly not listening).
3. Ask for a legitimate wish list, and write one down yourself.
If you have expectations in regards to the gifts that you’d like to receive or the reaction that you’d like to receive from the gifts that you give, then wish lists are a must. Dropping hints to a holiday-hater is not the way to go. Make it short, clear, and simple. Include links, if possible.
4. Ease into the holiday spirit.
Fight the urge to unload the entire attic full of Christmas decor in one weekend. Start with a few small items and gradually decorate over a week or two. Use this time to mentally prepare your Grinch for the all-important tree decorating that will occur with the entire family. (I think this is where I went wrong this year–Christmas just threw up all over our house one day, so by the time the tree went up my husband’s brain went straight into sleep-mode!)
On the same note, provide a seemingly insane amount of lead-time for rooftop projects. If you want your Christmas lights to be up and shining the day after Thanksgiving you might as well start asking around Halloween. No snow, no ice, no excuses, right?!
I wish there was another way…brainwash maybe?! (kidding) But I’m afraid that the only true solution is to fully compromise. The holiday may be a little less festive to you, but at least you will get to enjoy it with the person you love. In the end, sharing joy and making memories with loved ones is what I truly enjoy about the Christmas season anyhow. I guess I can learn to do that even if we don’t win the ugly sweater contest or watch all 12 of my favorite holiday movies.