Heartwings says, “When there are expectations we may not recognize the unexpected.”
“The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.” The verses by Clement Moore set an image of Santa that has remained with us through many generations. It is to be expected that he will wear a red suit, come down the chimney, arrive on a sleigh and so on. Cookies and carrots for the reindeer are part of the expectations for his Christmas Eve visit. Presents under the tree on Christmas morning are another. Does Santa always wear a red suit? Or can Santa dress in ordinary clothes?
“Santa Claus is coming to town,” as the song goes, and, some warn you’d better be good or else. “He’s making a list,” as the song goes. There used to be talk of Santa leaving a lump of coal or something else that is undesirable in the stocking of children who were not good enough to deserve toys. Some cultures included a kind of negative Santa called Black Pete, who tagged along to punish or otherwise be unkind to those whose bad behavior merited it. Must gifts be a reward or can they simply be a sign or love from the giver?
The stores are filled with glittering merchandise that sellers expect customers will take home and wrap to put under the tree. In some homes Santa is responsible for all the children’s presents. In mine, both as a child and as a parent, the presents Santa brought were in the stockings and the people who gave the special presents got the credit for it. Many also expect bonuses at Christmas time that will help pay for the gifts they anticipate purchasing for family and friends. The act of giving need not involve money, but can be what is offered in love.
The advertisements on television create enormous expectations. The shining allure of the latest toy or newest communication device creates desires that may lead to major dismay if they are not forthcoming. What may be lost in the light of all these expectations is the unexpected, unadvertised gifts that this time can bring: The peace of loving hearts gathered together and the good will that comes from sharing. The chance to participate in the love and merriment that is part of the holidays is the real blessing, the actual present to be gained at this time. Those who are too focused on their expectations may well miss out on this, the real gift of this season.
May you discover the joy of Christmas without expectations
Blessings and Best Regards, Tasha Halpert