The radio host couldn’t believe it. “Wait. So you JUST signed your whole family up for the 5k and didn’t tell them?”
His co-host responded, “Yeah, this way, the morning is planned. We will all get up and it will be a done deal. There isn’t an out. We earn the turkey.”
While this woman seemed certain a forced holiday run was a good idea, I was with the other host as he asked, “What if they don’t want to go? Are you sure this is a good surprise?”
Basically, the optimistic host thought, if they were committed they would do it—she invested in the tickets for a good cause, and her family would follow the lead.
While I understand the logic behind investing in the experience, I can’t imagine springing on my family “surprise, we are all running today and you have to because I paid.” I should note that I like a good trot for a good cause. I also love jammie time with the parade. Both can exist.
In past articles, I’ve shared how Christmas can activate unrealistic longings. Wrapping Paper Glow examines the anticipation vs. expectation while Toy Perspective: Outside of the Box unwraps how the past’s shoulds can intercept the powerful present. With this woman’s 5k story, I took inventory of the “expectations” surrounding holidays. It’s so easy to “sign” others and, especially ourselves, up for must-dos without even realizing the implications. I want to ask her how it went. Maybe, hopefully, she couched the idea to her family this way:
“There is sincerely no pressure. I bought these tickets and they can simply serve as a donation. But if we, or some of us, are down, I’d love trot this race with you.”
Healthy holiday tip: there HAS to be an out. The wisdom of letting family and friends “be” where and how they need to be and owning what you want can co-exist. Recently, on Thanksgiving, I had some introspection I had to do. My family gave me the space to process. We had a wonderful time together AND they let me “be” with my writing and thoughts. I needed that time with them and with myself.
Especially as adults, with years out of the house, I see this space as essential. As we head into Part II of the holidays, I wonder about seasonal hopes and expectations. I check myself and ask, “Rebekah have you ‘signed yourself’ up for something and might those shoulds contaminate the present?”
For our loved ones, how do we manage expectations and provide space for acceptance? What mental “tickets” have been purchased? How do we say, “these are my hopes, but they are not set is stone…everyone has an out”? I know, I know. These questions take bravery. As you take your courage in delight, I believe in you.
Your Brave Tutu (You’re brave, too-too!)
-Take courage in delight. Discover power in small moments.
Fun bonus: I saw this on a good friend’s wall: