Forget About Expectations - Random Reasonings

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Forget About Expectations

Do you get stressed during the Holiday Season?

A study by the American Psychological Association reported that over the holiday season (November to New Years) stress levels get higher.

The study also showed that increased stress affects women at more than twice the level it does men. A lot of that has to do with who shoulders most of the responsibility for meeting holiday expectations.

It starts with Thanksgiving.

66% of women plan and prepare the Thanksgiving dinner.

52% of women do all the shopping for the Thanksgiving dinner.

71% of women do all the cleanup after the Thanksgiving dinner.

And that’s just the beginning.

After Thanksgiving there’s gift shopping and gift wrapping, most of which is done by women. Women do most of the buying, addressing, and mailing of holiday greeting cards.

Women do most of the holiday decorating inside the home. Men, however do most of the outdoor decorations.

There are Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Years traditions, parties and family get-togethers that require planning, hostessing, food shopping and preparation, and a slew of other details to take care of; most of it done by women.

Only 27% of women feel they can relax during the holidays because for most women the holidays are when they’re juggling a whole range of additional activities on top of all their usual jobs and daily responsibilities.

Not only is it stressful, it’s exhausting. Most women feel they can’t step back from any of it because they don’t want to let down family and friends.

It makes me wonder, what would women actually do during the holidays if they didn’t feel there are all these expectations they have to live up to?

Wouldn’t it be great if this year we focused on appreciation more than on expectations?

Isn’t that a guideline we should follow all year long?  How many times do we feel disappointment for no reason other than some person or situation didn’t meet our expectations?

Even worse, we often have expectations we have never communicated so it is impossible for others to meet them when they know nothing about them.

Lets start, with this week of Thanksgiving, to truly show appreciation for the things others do for us and the thoughtfulness we are shown by others. Lets be appreciative of the comforts and treasures we have, instead of being focused on what we want or comparisons to what others have.

Most of all, lets not get angry, hurt, disillusioned or disappointed in others who aren’t meeting our expectations. Those negative feelings are ones we bring on ourselves.

So much emotional hurt in the world is caused by unmet expectations. It’s time to forget about them; to let them go, and to look for the things we can appreciate.

Of all the holidays we have here in the states, Thanksgiving is the one that’s all about the meal. Lets take the time to appreciate the bounty of food that we have. There are many places throughout the world, and here in our own country, where people don’t know when they’ll have their next meal.

When I was in France one of the things I appreciated the most was sharing the enjoyment of food. The French don’t just enjoy a delicious meal; they revere it. They savor it. A meal is something to be experienced, not chowed down in minutes. Every meal there was a leisurely appreciation of food.

While sharing a house in St. Remy de Provence with four others, one day we prepared a fabulous dinner with Cassoulet as the main dish and a Grand Marnier Souffle for dessert. Making a cassoulet is an all day affair with an amazing sauce and four kinds of meats each prepared separately before going into the finished dish. It truly is a dish to be savored.

We invited neighbors and were at the table together enjoying that meal for more than four hours. It was an evening of revelry where food was celebrated, helped along, of course, by fabulous selections of local wines. We don’t take that kind of time with meals here; not even with Thanksgiving dinner.

Over the years I’ve had many different Thanksgiving meal experiences. Sometimes I’ve prepared the meal. Other times I’ve enjoyed a meal prepared by someone else. One year my husband and I hosted a potluck Thanksgiving where the people who came each brought a food they had prepared. Another year I helped prepare a community Thanksgiving dinner served to more than 100 people.

This week I am going to enjoy preparing the meal for my family, and will be thankful for what I have and appreciate that I can share it with people I love, even if I’m the last one still eating it, which I probably will be.

“If you expect nothing from anybody you’re never disappointed.”

Sylvia Plath

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2 Comments

  1. Do you think women set those expectations and responsibilities (and therefore put much more pressure on themselves) or do you think men set those expectations/responsibilities and women are reacting to them?

    The armchair psychologist (the scientist dealing in generalities for clients) in me would say Thanksgiving for men is about football and for women about the family holiday meal.

    The armchair psychiatrist (physicians dealing with specific treatments for patients) in me would never say anything until examining a specific patient’s condition.

    Sylvia Plath committed suicide in 1963 at age 30, as you probably know. In 2009, her son also committed suicide. Their respective depressions must have extraordinarily dark and ultimately unbearable.

  2. Agree,Sylvia Plath is certainly not an example of coping … something she never did due to her mental/emotional challenges. and addictions. But I agree with her quote. Of course women set the standard at the holidays. Which is why I question “what would women do if they didn’t set all those expectations?” Learned a long time ago to not set expectations for anyone other than myself. Perhaps it is just the men I know but Thanksgiving is not about football for them. More about eating and falling asleep! LOL! For me preparing Thanksgiving dinner is fun. I enjoy doing it. But I feel for the women who do it because, well, someone has to; and they don’t enjoy it. Love getting your input to the blog! Happy Thanksgiving.

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