If you make no appointments, you will not suffer disappointments. – Sai Baba
One of the biggest things I remember about Christmas as a kid was a pervading sense of disappointment. The holiday was so built up, so out of proportion and so filled with fantasy images of ecstatic children swooning over the perfect doll or tool, that almost nothing would ever seem to satisfy my childish expectations. When it came time to open gifts, I always felt my heart sink as one gift after another seemed to miss the mark of what I had hoped and longed for. As I’ve grown into adulthood, I’ve learned that reducing my desires and expectations leads to contentment and happiness. When I expect nothing it reduces the pressure on others and I also feel more open to the simple experience of simply being with the people I enjoy.
For so many decades Christmas has been almost solely about what one is supposed to give and get. It’s been about exchanges, about trying to fulfill other’s hopes and wants. For some people this part of Christmas is a way to gain favor with family and friends. It’s linked to wanting recognition and appreciation. This is one of the reasons Christmas has become so stressful for so many people. We fear disappointing those around us. But as funds become more limited, we can easily remove the pressure from those dear to us by simply saying, “Let’s keep the gifts really small.” Or, “Let’s not give gifts this year.” One can move the focus to relating and loving the time spent with family and friends who often travel far to be together.