Holiday time is supposed to be a joyous time for all, right?

WRONG. It just isn’t, if we’re keeping it real.

There are many of us that find this time of year, as well as other holiday times, a hotbed of triggering experiences. The holidays are mixed with all kinds of memories, some good, some bad, and some downright awful.

A big mistake I think we make with the people we love is assuming that everyone is in the spirit, excited to have a party and a good time. We operate as though this assumption were true.

Rather than make such an assumption, what I hope we will do instead is consider that everyone has a story. Each person has his or her own history of experiences that make this time of year particularly challenging for some. Let’s not assume that just because we are determined to be happy throughout the holidays that everyone else should be able to buck up and do the same. Our compassion for others’ points of view may really be the ticket to a happier time for all.

Here’s my tip:


If you’re good at letting things go, simply let your expectations go. If you’re the kind of person that doesn’t let go easily, then don’t. Just hang your expectations on a hook, or let them fly off in a hot air balloon. Gather up your demands for how everyone else should behave and feel at this time of year, and let a big breeze just blow them away. Get focused instead on having compassion for the person in your life who’s grumpy right now, who’s anxious or miserable and not in the holiday mood.

Too much pressure is put on this! We want a stream of love and goodness and generosity. We want to get all the things we want just the way we want them because it’s holiday time, after all. Shouldn’t we expect that all will be well at least at this time of year?

I’m here to say, no. That expectation is dangerous. It leaves many with disappointment. We’re just human after all. We’re doing the best we can with the experiences we’ve had. Believe me, even if it doesn’t look like it all the time, we are trying. No one wants to ruin anybody else’s good time, not if they can help it.

So let’s keep it simple this year and not expect it’s all going to be perfect or even fabulous. Let’s just know that people we know and love, are doing their best to smile or find that just-right gift, or even care that it’s holiday time at all. I promise there are good reasons beneath it being so challenging even if we don’t know what those reasons are exactly. Even if the people who are struggling don’t know what those reasons are exactly. That’s just how mysterious life and people can be. We don’t have all the answers but we can have compassion just the same.