Seasonal Expectations


Your grandmother has banked quite a few years and whilst I would not say she’s old (I wouldn’t dare!), I’d have to suggest she is in her twilight years. But then, how long are those?

Thing is, she can talk about events that your children can only related to through history documentaries and do so with authority. So come Christmas as we all scratch our heads at what to buy our nearest-and-dearest whilst counting our money and every other advert is crying out “buy me”, she will shake her head and recollect the Christmas’ of her childhood. Often she will comment: “We never got much. We had no money back then. It was a real treat to get an orange in your stocking”. Then a wistful look will overtake her and I know she’s thinking back to her childhood. Moments will pass and then she will add: “But we were happy”.

Some days I wish I could go back to my childhood. Not to change anything, but to feel a few things twice.


She grew up through the war years, lived in London and spent many a night sleeping in the bomb shelter at the bottom of her family’s garden. She’ll tell you a fair story about any one of several events from her life and they’ll all come from a world you know nothing about, a world I would describe as skinnier than the one you and I now inhabit.

What do I mean by that?

Well, a world that was not so pressed full of “stuff”. Things we’re encouraged to own, maybe do already own. Media that steals rather than occupies our time and relationships. A world where people had time to move in and space to enjoy it. Strange how your children will never have any concept of that world, a world where there were no buttons to press to achieve your desires and if you wanted the house warm you took time and built a fire. You did not access your boiler via Bluetooth! You paid a price, up front for your pleasures simple as they were.

Was it a happier place?

It’s a strange but true thing that we humans can turn our recollections into a much brighter, shinier version of what they actually were. Like, we are able to knock off all the sharp corners and sand out the irregularities until we have something approaching perfect. So, our memories and recollections are not always a true recounting of the actual events on the day. Let me add, we can also do the opposite but that’s for a different letter.

The most beautiful things in life are not things. They’re people and places, memories and smiles and laughter.

8 – Images.Blogspot.Com

That said, I would add that there is something pleasing about a simpler world, this thought perhaps being amplified at Christmas time. In fact Christmas has a way of bringing so much into focus and to the fore in our lives. We have to think who we care about enough to send a card to. Who we want to give a gift to and then what form does that gift take? The choice of gifts are endless thanks to the man at Amazon. We wrestle with our options as we focus on what others would like and this brings into question how much we actually know about their lives and, maybe more importantly, how much do they mean to us. We are, according to our importance or popularity, invited to share meals with others or to attend parties. Suddenly Christmas is a tool for highlighting who we matter too so if you’re the insecure type Christmas can be a little uncomfortable!

In a world where our options were limited, our gifts simple, would it be better? If at Christmas the best we could give was our love and care as expressed through that simple gift would we have better relationships. Indeed, is it even possible as people we can learn that, as Divinci wrote: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” for it is in the simple, heart felt acts that the truest expressions are found. It is there that I can really touch another with a message of care. Not in huge bundles of “stuff” to fill your home and bury any expression of care.

And now the world seems to have stolen the simple possibility because we’ve substituted it for expectation. Expectation, fired by the adverts, that happiness at Christmas is found in an endless stream of gifts,, nightly meals out and parties . And if we can’t afford this world, as many now can’t, they’d is always guilt.

Peace begins when expectation ends.

Sri Chinnoy

Let’s you and I take a moment and reflect on your grandmother’s recollections. Was it a better world? Physically, probably not, I mean I do like my warmth to be now and not in half an hour when the logs catch light. But were people more connected, I’m thinking so, because there wasn’t the endless stream of possible, and seemingly necessary, possessions to take the place of people. The 24/7 reel of mindless entertainment. There weren’t even televisions😳 Maybe our Christmas expectation was to be able to give and receive care and love for others. And allow them to fill our time and space. We’d make an effort to meaningfully do the same to them.

Will we ever really know? Not without a massive joint effort to do Christmas differently. To actively change our expectations. It’s doable but do we really want to do it?

Yours, going to find logs for the fire, metaphorically.


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