Expectation – a tricky thing at any time, but a significantly greater land mine at this time of year. I know this from personal experience. The pressure to meet these expectations is in large part what keeps me so busy during this season.
Junior (x4) needs to bring cookies for the class Christmas party. I flirt with the idea of sending bags of Oreos. But I can’t. For I know the expectation leans more heavily toward hand decorated Christmas trees.
We are heading over the hills and through the woods to celebrate Christmas at Grandmother’s house. I can’t shake the compulsive need to leave the house immaculate in the event my family never returns. Should others need to enter our home, what would they think of me if they were to discover cluttered closets and sticky floors? (My apologies should the unthinkable happen. The above scenario is a very real possibility.)
Every item of clothing we own must be washed before I can leave. What if we were to return, but to a catastrophe of epic proportions? Wouldn’t I feel better knowing my family would face the frightening and unexpected with reserves of clean underwear?
I think my spouse and I have communicated travel expectations, only to discover that he does not view the departure time he threw out there as a wish/dream/best-case-scenario. He actually intends for all luggage to be loaded and members of the family to be buckled in their seats and out on the open road by then.
And don’t get me started on the fact that my birthday, Christmas, and our anniversary all fall within nine days of each other. I start the season with festive excitement, convinced this year it won’t matter that two significant days get absorbed into the hustle and bustle of a wonderful family Christmas. But every year I find myself quietly shrugging back the disappointment of unmet expectation. (Except the one year I lay with my head on the kitchen table sobbing and mournfully singing the lyrics of ‘I Wish I Had a River I Could Skate Away On . . .’ That year unmet expectation did not die quietly or with any measure of grace.)
Expectation – the burden of Christmas for thousands of years.
The world waited for a coming Messiah; a conquering King to throw off oppression. Instead, they knelt before a helpless baby.
The world longed for the brightness of the star to chase away darkness. Instead, many parents closest to this Redeemer had their own babies ripped from their arms by a cruel despot.
For security, for peace, for great joy.
Expectation. The hope of Christmas’ for thousands of years.
We cling to hope.
A sure hope.
A hope that will not disappoint.
A hope that will blow our expectations out of this world.