Back in the day, when there were three regular TV channels and about five somethings called UHF channels, there was a commercial for Heinz Ketchup that used the Carly Simon song "Anticipation" --look it up on YouTube, kids -- to express the idea that Heinz ketchup was really good and worth waiting for (despite being a viscous solid that took forever to exit the bottle). The anticipation was culinary agony, but the resulting ketchup was worth the wait.
I find that anticipation is terrible, but usually not worth the emotional lather that we work ourselves into prior to an event. For example, if you have ever been on a blind date, the anticipation and time leading up to the date leaves you wondering who this person is, is he tall enough, is he funny, will it be all about him, will he think I am beautiful (well, duh), will I get spinach stuck in my teeth -- so many worst-case scenarios run around inside your head. Then the actual date occurs and it was not even a small percentage as bad as you thought (hopefully). NOTE: I am actually trying to set up two friends on a blind date right now. I think they are both lovely people and if they are reading this, they should not get freaked out about their possible date because it's going to be amazing.
But I digress.
Christmas is one of the most anticipated holidays of the year, right after Valentine's Day. Thanks to the Hallmark Channel, every major retail store, Norman Rockwell, and even the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, people build up this idea of what Christmas should be like. Newsflash: There are a lot of amazing families and there are a lot of dysfunctional families. If you have this picture-perfect idea of what Christmas should be like, you can either adapt it to what you can do and enjoy it, or you can set your expectations unreasonably high and get disappointed when no one wants to wear matching Christmas sweaters.
In the now 23 days before Christmas, let me encourage you to greatness with Terri's Simple Steps to Christmas Happiness:
1) Have a heart to heart talk with your brain. Come to grips with what your situation is and figure out the best plan of action with what realistically can occur. Maybe you know that your (insert family member here) is (insert life situation or feelings here) and that is unlikely going to change before Christmas. So what can happen that will let you enjoy Christmas and enrich that situation as much as possible? There are about a million ways this can go, so my advice to you is accept your situation and work around it.
2) Do what is going to help you enjoy the holidays. Put up a tree. Don't put up a tree but hang garland on the mantel. Hang lights. Don't hang lights. Make cookies. Decide no cookie will pass your mouth. Buy a beautiful Christmas wreath. Call your college friends. Send out Christmas cards a week late.
3) Get out and help someone. Christmas is about giving. There are 23 days in which you can visit friends, volunteer at your church or local homeless shelter or humane society. If you are anticipating a tough Christmas, get out and do something for someone else. I PROMISE that this is the best way to feel better.
So, keep in mind that ketchup is red. Christmas is red and green. You can be red-y (get it? ready?) for Christmas by not letting anticipation take over. Enjoy where you are every day.