When your expectations strike out…

You can never tell what will move you to write. After just reading an old blog post by someone I don’t regularly even follow (facebook click) on becoming free from the Christmas Holidays machine of being in charge of everyone’s happiness, I feel stirred. Each year that we have been married, Christmas has been ruined for one reason or another… part of my feelings of betrayal in the aftermath have been that my expectations for a perfect, or at least mostly-perfect, Christmas season just got trashed and I want to hold my husband accountable for that. While there have been legitimate issues and things to be worked out, I feel the need to explore my deep-seated desire to have the perfect “holiday.”

The world just celebrated the Hallmark-inspired Holiday of “Valentines” and I had a triggering, dark weekend without really knowing why. I seem to have developed a love-hate relationship with this holiday. My marriage is not made up of “The Big Gestures.” We are generally low-key and I love that about us. I wouldn’t trade this relationship, where my husband gets my daughter ready and to school each morning, does her homework with her in the evenings, has dinner ready when I walk in the door most evenings, for the kind of relationship that produces fireworks once or twice in a year… My husband is a steady, low-key type of person who is just “there,” day in and day out.

To be honest, part of this mental purge is to remind myself to appreciate him, even when some dark part of me still wants a big, unexpected gesture at times. Frankly, it’s selfish because I want the big gesture, but don’t have the time or mental energy to make one of my own. He gave me a card. He gave me a gift that I wanted. He even bought me flowers (Let’s be honest- flowers are pretty, useless creatures that die very quickly and personally don’t brighten my soul). But at our family dinner together with Daughter, it just felt… flat. There was no joy in Mudville for us. I know that, deep-down, he did those things to check something off a list that I gave him while we were dating and while he was in the habit of making fun of this “fake holiday.” The most I felt able to do this year was go out of my way to buy the ingredients and make a new dessert for the family to try, although I ended up accidentally dropping it on the floor before we could all try it (my husband still ate some, bless him). Sometimes it feels like the harder I try, the more I fail.

I am realizing that I, too, would rather be a person who is faithful in the little things. I would rather be a person that can be counted on to be “present” in difficulty, to do everything I can to support my partners dreams with all the advantages I possess, and to make everyday life more pleasant, than to be the type of person that goes all out to make holidays an extravaganza. In the words of Sweet Brown: “Ain’t nobody got time for that.”

If I can have the steadiness and discipline to be faithful in the little things, to appreciate the little things, to take joy and pride in the little things that are good and right, then maybe the “big” things- the times we have failed “big time,” the holidays that were ruined or not celebrated explosively, won’t tug at my soul so much… won’t be so hard or dark to overcome. I am aiming towards that goal.

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