Expectatitus: The Disease that Stole Christmas!

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Are you without someone you love this Christmas season? Are you longing for a tradition that will not be happening this year? Do all the decorations and happy wishes make you wish that it were January? If so, you’re not a Grinch you probably have a bad case of Expectatitus.

Other names for this disease are the holiday blues or a bad case of nostalgia. It comes on when things are not the way they are supposed to be and our dream for that “perfect Christmas” doesn't come true. When this happens we are in danger of catching the disease Expectatitus.

Expectatitus: A disease of the spirit that is often caught around major holidays and special events when expectations are not met. Symptoms include a general malaise brought on by an unsuccessful attempt to recreate a past experience or tradition. Below is a symptom checklist

Diminished Vision:  Those afflicted become blind to the true joys of the moment and the beauty all about them.

Difficulty Hearing: New ideas and creative solutions are not heard

Negative Speech Patterns:  These and other phrases are common to those afflicted with Expectatitus “I wish it was like it was”, or “If only __________ were here”. Or “we’ve always done it that way” 

Perception Problems: Dilutions regarding a perfect past and flawless expectations are experienced by those afflicted with Expectatitus.   

Warning: Expectatitus is a progressive disease that ultimately affects the heart.

The Heart becomes rigid and obsessed with the past and unable to find contentment, peace, and joy in the present experiences.

If you or someone you know is showing any of these symptoms then it is critical that you take immediate action because this disease is both highly communicable and often genetic. Those with the disease spread it to others causing them to exhibit the same symptoms. It is also passed down from generation to generation through creating unalterable and pointless traditions.

Is there a cure?

Yes! It requires one to put aside their own preconceptions and unbending expectations to focus on the true nature of the event. In the case of Christmas, the afflicted person must stop making Christmas about what and more about who. The ability to be flexible, and focus on the true meaning of Christmas is essential to full recovery.

Mary: a case study of one who did not contract Expectatitus

The circumstances of Jesus’ birth was not at all what Mary had in mind for her first child. Nine months pregnant she was forced to travel hundreds of miles to a town where she knew no one. When she arrived she began to have contractions but discovered there wasn’t even a corner of a room for her to have her baby. An animal stall became her delivery room, her attendees were the displaced animals and the welcoming party consisted of a band of shepherds; societies outcasts. This wasn't even close to what she would have dreamt of much less hoped for. So how did she deal with this situation? The record shows that Mary took it all in and this was her attitude.

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
— Luke 2:19

Mary put aside her expectations and experienced the wonder of the moment. Even if she didn’t quite understand the significance of what was happening. She kept herself open to these experiences and in the coming years gained greater awareness of the miracle of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem.

So that is the cure to Expectatitus? It is not in the forsaking of our dreams and traditions but rather in being open to all that is new around us. It is the ability to focus on what is truly important. So during this Christmas season let’s do what Mary did and treasure the unimaginable gift of God in the birth of Jesus and make our goal to share our love and joy to all around us. No matter what our circumstances.

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Three Ways to Avoid a Crazy Christmas

The results are in and the Holiday Season is the most stressful time of the year. It’s also “the most wonderful time of the year” (Love that song!) So how can we reduce the stress and accentuate the wonderful? Here are three ideas:

  1. Stop with the nostalgic expectations! Memories of Christmas’ past are great but if we are trying to reproduce past events every year we are headed for a meltdown. Most of our nostalgic memories are “cherry picked” from our past and they just aren’t real. We generally forget the bad and remember the good so even if we were able to exactly reproduce a past Christmas it still wouldn’t be real. Holding on to certain traditions is healthy but when these traditions become absolutes then they're going to make us and everyone around us unhappy. (Need I bring up fruit cake?)
  2. Find the uniqueness in this Christmas. Every year has its own special joys. I know it hurts when some of our family will not be with us this season but there are others who are here if we just look around. Think about ways of making this Christmas unique and ways to reach out and make someone else’s Christmas unique. Studies have consistently shown that when we focus outside of ourselves by giving, caring and serving we become happier. Wouldn’t Christmas be a great time to prove that fact?
  3. Focus on the true meaning of Christmas. Don’t let all the tinsel distract from the true wonder of Christmas. When we ponder the powerful message that God has loved us so much that he would actually take the form of a human and live among us … well that message beats some fat man delivering toys every day!

In case you forgot here’s a classic clip from A Charley Brown Christmas. Oh yes, and when you watch this clip notice when Linus drops his blanket. That blanket is his security and never leaves his side but when he utters some very special words he lets it go. In this season when we are so tempted to be anxious and fearful let the words uttered by Linus that were proclaimed by an Angelic Host be a deep source of peace and comfort.

Merry Christmas everyone!