I've really been struggling with this post (which means I've typed and erased about 100 lines of text - one at a time) because I feel like my first post of 2007 should contain profound wisdom, thought-provoking ideas and/or really funny stories. But the pressure is too much for me so we'll all have to settle for my usual ramblings.
It's all about expectations and mine have always done me in. I'm a dreamer; my imagination and hopes unconstrained by reality. But when fantasy collides with reality, reality almost always wins. That's why I stopped trying to have the "best holiday ever" every year. (For those of you who have Spongebob fans for children, you might now be hearing that catchy ditty Best Day Ever from a recent episode. It'll probably be stuck in your head for a week or two. You're welcome.)
When I was single, I was always worried about being alone on New Year's Eve. Or worse, being a third or fifth wheel with my hooked-up friends who pitied me and let me tag along. When I was living in New York the pressure was especially intense. Partly because everything in New York is especially intense. Partly because I was there in the late '80s when everything had to be bigger and better and more fabulous all the time. But mainly because I had reached an age where I expected to be married or at least on the road to being married. I hadn't yet met anyone I was remotely interested in marrying (unless you count this guy but since he was never interested in me I don't think he counts) but that didn't stop me from feeling like a failure at the tender age of 23. Each new year that came and went in my mid-20s was a harsh reminder that my reality wasn't matching my fantasy.
I read recently that if the map doesn't match the ground, the map is wrong. Like my favorite gender-difference example - if the clothes don't fit a man, he gets a tailor but if clothes don't fit a woman, she goes on a diet - I always figured that if my map didn't match the ground, I just wasn't reading it right. I thought I should be married by 25 and if I wasn't, it was my fault. It never occurred to me that the goal itself was screwy. Of course, once I stopped expecting to find my soul mate, I found him. And it was in a place and at a time that was totally unexpected. No pressure. Funny how things work.
So now I just try to take the holidays in stride and not expect too much. We try to keep things simple - we don't need grand plans and big parties to feel like we've celebrated. Since I learned to manage my expectations for the holidays, I've avoided putting pressure on my family to meet my unrealistic fantasy and everyone has a much better time.
Now if only I could manage my expectations about keeping my (unrealistic) New Year's resolutions . . .