Great Expectations

Outtake #2

I love this family photo fail. My husband looks so cute smiling that big and me? What in the world was I doing–well, I was trying to calm our cat and make hubby laugh (he didn’t want to take pictures that day). I told a joke and the kitty didn’t calm, of course, but wow we sure laughed a lot trying to get this shot right. Instead me with my lips pursed, my honey with a cheesy grin, and our cat—just his forehead. On a more positive note–I can appreciate that I’m a few short years from 60 and not a wrinkle on my face. Though–something I always try to cover with makeup or lighting (rushed today–little makeup and it was a dark, cloudy day) –and that’s the Gordon Ramsey lines on my chin. Yes, I have the same lines he does–from what, I have no clue. They showed up about 15 years ago…I tease my husband that it’s a definite sign that I’m related to Gordon ( I may be his #1 fan).

It’s been so much fun just letting go. This picture says so much about us. We tend to build up great expectations for things like picture taking. Everything has to go just right because we don’t have expensive cameras and can’t afford editing programs to change/alter anything. For years I wouldn’t allow photos to be taken of me no matter what the occasion. Then one day my husband said, “what are we going to have to look at, besides stuff, when we get older?” I thought about that for quite some time and knowing he would have nothing to look at should I pass away and vice versa said -“o.k.” and I’ve had my picture taken several times a year since then in all types of settings, surroundings, and occasions. Some flatter me and some don’t. I’m alright with that–we’ll both share a good memory (and laugh) when we look at them someday. We’ve had so many happy days in the last 27 years and taken some really good pictures together –that our pictures, both good and not so good, would fill a dozen albums.

Don’t let the expectations that you place on yourself rob you of the joy that is now.

When I put my new black sweater on and gave our kitty a treat and my husband hustled into his favorite shirt, there was every expectation that are picture would be great. However, there are many things to consider with picture taking. There’s lighting, timing, and willing participants. Neither my hubby or kitty wanted pictures that day. Yet, even with a family picture fail this moment will forever be a moment of joy for us. Yes, we could experience joy with a great picture, but it’s so us to not take perfect pictures that it fits us and brings us joy two-fold.

How many people have you heard say they had a wonderful Christmas this year? How many times did you hear someone say that they rested, relaxed, were laid back, took things easy, had the best Christmas in years–no demands, no high expectations, and no rush. I’ve heard these statements and more from many, many people the last two days. Our Christmas holiday and break is usually as low-key and laid back as this year every year. We buy all the gifts we need to buy by September, wrap in October, and then do last minutes stocking stuffer’s at the end. We usually have a ornament free tree up after Halloween (training purposes for kitty), and then decorate right after Thanksgiving, and leave up until January 15th. The season is officially over for us once we feel it is over. This year is no different and surprise of all surprises hubby is on board. Usually, with some grumbling, he goes along with it, but some years he starts trying to get me on his schedule. That’s not possible and it usually doesn’t work in his favor. lol

For the first time in years people didn’t feel obligated to spend, spend, spend. Some could and didn’t, others pared it down, and unfortunately many had no funds with which to buy gifts. Thankfully, I noticed so many people stepping up and providing. I hope everyone was able to enjoy some part or another of the Christmas holidays. Hopefully, people will remember to give themselves some grace in the years to come and not wait for another pandemic or tragedy to shape how they do things/live during the holiday season. It’s so much easier and so much more full of light to concentrate fully on your family, your home, what you’re reasonably capable of giving of yourself vs. other (not family, or very extended family) people, get together’s/parties/ dinners leaving you feeling that you’re burning the candle at both ends. It’s sad that it took this horrific tragedy and difficult year to put everything into perspective, or at least try to, but to be honest that’s what it took.

This is not to say that you should not care about others or give or go places or visit family, attend parties, and events. When life returns to some form of normality, I’m sure many will be relieved and feel very happy again. I think what may have happened this year for some people was an awakening. Years ago they loved having get-together’s, traveling, entertaining and all, but then somewhere a long the way some of it became a drag. Maybe time, family size, money, distance, health? started to take a toll? Then this year happened and get-together’s and entertaining for many people was called off and they stayed at home. Perhaps in the years to come they can create a middle ground from which they plan their holidays and celebrations.

This year I am setting goals as I do every year–just maybe not as many. None of us can know what this year will bring, never mind, all the new things we will learn to navigate and take on during the on-going pandemic. One thing is for sure for me though–and that is we’re going to continue to sit back and take it easy (when we can), take things slow (when we can) and let life soak into us moment to moment, and let go forever of the idea that life always turns out exactly as we planned it. Also, to remember that just because I thought it, or expected it, or do things a certain way doesn’t mean other people see things or do things that same way. Building up one’s hopes or expectations of others is futile because inevitably no one person can live up to your “secret” expectations of them. The moral of the story–communicate with people more clearly and be honest about what you are truly capable of putting out into the universe.

Until next time, have a happy end of the year– and I’ll see you in the new year!

Title and inspiration for this post came from my favorite Charles Dickens novel–

Great Expectations!