Unrealistic Expectations

Ah, Christmas.
A time for joy, cheer, shopping, sharing, eating, laughing, and that time-honored tradition of watching Christmas Vacation. Christmas vacation
I can empathize with Clark Griswold a little. I, too, have unrealistic expectations …

Ellen: You set standards that no family activity can live up to.
Clark: When have I ever done that?
Ellen: Parties, weddings, anniversaries, funerals, holidays …
Clark: Goodnight, Ellen.
Ellen: Vacations, graduations …

I have always been this way – building things up in my mind to the point that no real event could ever live up to what I think might/should happen. It’s a curse – and try as I might, I cannot stop my mind from creating a perfect scenario for every event in my life. My husband would tell you that this causes me to live in a constant state of disappointment; fortunately, I have learned to manage after forty years of experience.

That being said – I love the holidays! I love to decorate my house, bake all kinds of goodies, shop at 3 am on Black Friday, and I enjoy the hustle and bustle of crowded stores and cranky retail workers. It’s festive. It’s fun.

I also love traditions. Growing up, we always listened to Kenny and Dolly’s Once Upon a Christmas while decorating the tree. Then, we’d turn off all the lights (except for the tree) and sit on the couch, enjoying our hard work. At some point before Christmas, my grandma, aunts, and cousins would gather together for a day of cookie baking which always ended with me eating entirely too much fudge; then, on Christmas, we’d all go to my grandparents’ house to eat dinner and open gifts. At the end of the day, the kids would be relegated to the rec room while the adults sipped wine in the dining room and caught up on family gossip.

As we all grew up, started our own families and got busy with our adult lives, most of these traditions ceased to exist. As a childless married couple, Chris and I didn’t really establish any traditions since our Christmases looked different from year to year. This year, however … all that is changing! This year, the boys are two and are totally into Santa, Christmas and presents. This year, I’m bringing traditions BACK to the Kliewer house!

As I started to consider what holiday traditions I’d like to establish, I first consulted Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. I was immediately overwhelmed. My high-standard-setting self started envisioning a snowy trip to select the perfect tree (we don’t do real trees – never have, never will), wearing matching aprons while baking Christmas goodies (have I mentioned my boys are two?), and the whole family gathering around the tree to decorate while Christmas music played in the background (reality? Dad was watching football and the boys lost interest in decorating about two minutes in).

So … this year, I settled for simple. We went out to dinner and then to see Santa at Bass Pro Shop. We went to see Christmas in the Park at Longview Lake, and we will spend Christmas Eve and Christmas day with both sets of grandparents.

One thing I have come to realize is that traditions can start at any time; they don’t have to be established from year one in order to be considered traditions. As the boys get older, I would love to incorporate acts of service or charity in our traditions; but, for 2013, simple and stress-free it shall be. And for this high-standard setting momma – that’s perfect. 😉

I'm Cali. I'm a wife, co-parent, and mom of twin boys who are soon-to-be 6, as well as brand new step-mom to 3 young adults who are 19, 16, and 14. I was born and raised in the Northland, and I can't imagine living anywhere else...unless you were to offer me a beach house, or a villa on the coast of Italy or France. I have been a public educator for 21 years, and I currently teach middle school, which I truly believe is the very best age in all the world. I enjoy reading, cooking, and traveling, and I believe ice cream is an acceptable meal any time of the day. I drink entirely too much diet coke, and my floors are rarely clean. I joined the mommy-club later in life after an 8 year struggle with infertility. I've decided being an "old mom" is a pretty great gig.


  1. AMEN sister. I am the exact. Same. Way. This year, I made the decision NOT to bake Christmas cookies (this coming from a girl that for the last 10 years, has made a couple hundred dozen to give away/share with neighbors/take to parties). With a busy toddler, our upcoming week long holiday roadtrip, and a short holiday season, I decided if baking was going to stress me out, I just wasn’t going to do it–and I didn’t! It’s been a good decision 🙂 Hope you and your boys have a very Merry Christmas!

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