Choosing Joy: 3 Tips for Letting Go of Your Holiday Expectations

holiday dinner

I’m not a big fall/winter person, but one thing I do love about this time of year is the holiday season. I look forward to Thanksgiving and Christmas all year long. The smell of fresh pumpkin baked goods wafting through the air, hot cocoa, Christmas movies, glimmering lights… awe, how it makes my heart skip with glee.

And, while there is nothing wrong with looking forward to this holiday season, the long awaited time of year often breeds a whole list of expectations in my heart and mind. A list that sounds fabulous, but realistically will never fully come to fruition.

And, when I allow these expectations to take root, I am then disappointed. I become discontent.  If I’m not careful, this time of year that I have looked forward to for so long can waist away while I relish in frustration.  

You see, if it were up to me, the next month of my life would look something like this:

Family gatherings filled with scrumptious juicy turkey and all the fixings, games and laughter with family. We would go around the room mentioning all the blessings we have, sipping on coffee and enjoying the spread of delicious desserts, without the stress of cooking the food, cleaning the house, preparing plates for picky children, cleaning up more messes, fighting with toddlers who desperately need naps, and the drama that family gatherings can sometime provide.

The weeks following Thanksgiving would be filled with romantic dates with my husband- ice skating, fancy dinners, and lots of Christmas lights. Family activities- putting up the Christmas tree, decorating Christmas cookies, holiday crafts, and evenings sipping on hot chocolate watching my favorite Christmas movies. Long enjoyable days of shopping where I find the perfect gift for each person on my list, wrapping each gift beautifully to place under my perfectly decorated tree, while watching the latest holiday special.

And of course it WILL snow on Christmas and we will all gleefully spend the afternoon building snowmen, sledding, and partaking in a snowball fight, only to warm up by the fireplace (which we do not have) and sip on more warm beverages.

Oh, what a joyful time it will be!

BUT, the reality is, this is NOT reality.

As my husband would say, I may have watched too many Hallmark holiday films.


The reality is my unrealistic expectations will set my heart up for disappointment.

AND, the truth is, most of what I mentioned has absolutely NOTHING to do with the reason that we celebrate throughout this holiday season.

SO, what’s a girl like me to do?

Here are some tips to keep your holiday season full of joy no matter what does or does not come your way:

1.Plan and schedule activities ahead of time. There is nothing wrong with looking forward to doing some special and fun things with family throughout this holiday season. If these things are on the calendar well in advance, they are more likely to happen!

2.Be flexible. Hate to break it to you, but this time of year is well, NOT about you. Take some time to find out what things your family would enjoy doing this Christmas season and be willing release some of the things you desire.

3.Let it go! Let it go! No, really, let it go already. Let go of those expectations. Step back and think about what is realistic and what is not, and move forward with a new mindset.

4.Most importantly, focus on the reason for the season. Sounds corny, I know. BUT it’s sooo true. This season is not about glimmering lights, and presents, and food. It is about Jesus. It’s about all that He has given us. It’s about His love and generosity. Don’t forget!

Happy Thanksgiving!

With Love,



3 thoughts on “Choosing Joy: 3 Tips for Letting Go of Your Holiday Expectations

  1. Sarah, so true! This season is really about Jesus. I keep a nativity up all year round to remind me that I shouldn’t just celebrate Jesus one day a year but all year round. I’m a huge fan of this time of year too. Something glorious about this season especially when I remember who it’s truly about.


  2. Pingback: Simplicity: Why I Said NO to Advent Calendars, Christmas Cards, and My Shopping List | Gracefilled Growth

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