Do You Confuse Expectation and Anticipation?

Do You Confuse Expectation and Anticipation?

Christmas is now less than a month away. I suddenly realized this on Sunday and as I did two conflicting emotions gripped me: excitement because our daughter will be home, and dread because it is at Christmastime that I miss Alex the most.

Like last year, and the year before, I find myself wondering how it is even possible to celebrate Christmas without Alex.

Christmas, like any big event, evokes a myriad of different emotions within us. I think we get into trouble when we confuse expectation (things we are pretty sure will happen) and anticipation (things we hope will happen). I want to get it straight this year because I believe in doing so I will set the foundation for a holiday that will be more peaceful and less painful.

My expectations:

  • It will be bittersweet when family gathers; I will be keenly aware of who is not with us. There will be moments…
  • There will be times of familiar family chaos; isn’t there always?
  • We will eat a few too much rich food, perhaps enjoy a little too much wine and become a bit overtired thanks to our efforts to squeeze a lot of visits in a very short period of time.

My anticipations:

  • Family time with the three of us. How many more years will we have Natasha all to ourselves at Christmastime?
  • The “Find the Santa Game” where the younger nephews search for the many Santas I’ve collected over the past twenty-five years and have used to decorate the rooms on the main floor of our house.
  • Evening drives to town down the country road where we see the amazing light displays prepared by generous neighbours.
  • Watching people open the gifts I’ve spent time contemplating, shopping for and wrapping.
  • Opening the package that comes in the mail from you. I can’t wait to see what you send. (It’s worth a try ;-)

Maybe, as I learned not so long ago, I will manage to avoid both the happiness-seeking and sadness-dodging by reaching for well-being instead. Maybe I’ll stand and watch as the roller coaster whizzes by.

How are you feeling as we approach the holidays? What are your expectations and anticipations?

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About The Author


I am passionate about writing and community building. I’ve written a book about healing and happiness, The Happy Place, as well as a Community Building book, Sounding the Drum: Community Building in the Digital Age, now available at any Amazon store. I’ve been through life changes that I thought were the end of my world, but I’m still here. I never know what will happen next. Isn’t that what makes life interesting?