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Most newsletters sent out today or tomorrow are usually wonderfully inspiring and ethereal. That is such a gift.  

However, I would like to provide another approach. As a psychotherapist in private practice for 25+ years, this time of year – November 15th to January 15th, extra appointments were always the norm…. Why? Expectations. It is true that this time of year is filled with joy, excitement, and family, but also expectations. Expectations we need to keep in check and realistic, and I’m a born optimist saying this.  

Already this year, one client (with 4 children), had to deal with a family member, a 10-hour drive away, who was in tears at the “betrayal” of her not driving back down – even after a Thanksgiving trip there. My client’s (and her husband’s) guilt, confusion, and shame at wanting to be home for Christmas with their young children was overwhelming while the other person worked the victim/abandoned card very well.

Welcome to the Christmas season… 

Whether it is our expectations on others or ourselves, or other’s expectations on us, things need to be kept in perspective. Christmas is generally a holiday workwise but can be dreaded as a reason for higher-than-normal expectations personally. As with all things, balance is a necessity. How much is reasonable is usually the question.    

Enjoy the day off. Enjoy the movies and popcorn if that’s your thing. Enjoy the time to celebrate with family if this is your holiday.

Accept, however, that no one changes dramatically because of this one day. The absolutely human person you knew last week, is the same human who is showing up today, perhaps far more stressed. Be kind to you and them. 

Be at peace with the gift of having loved ones around.

The present sharing can be exhausting and stress-filled while reminding us of how tight money is. Be kind to yourself. The food preparation and service can place unrealistic expectations on the server. Help out!  

Think of this day as the gift of seeing how far some have grown emotionally, spiritually, and/or physically. Think of this as a day to simply observe the many dynamics that take place and watch how each one loves, entertains, and shows up. This is a day when some others are trying to be all things to all people even more than normally. 

Take this day to thank God for the gift of life. The gift of another year being completed and the gift of sharing time with those you have walked this earth with for a very long time. Every one of us is in process. Every one of us is growing and changing, some easily and some fighting the whole way. Without judgment or offering unwanted advice, simply enjoy their presence in your life. 

If the expectations are for connection as much as possible, and not for the “perfect” gathering, you can easily enjoy your day with private and alone time later. Know that the greatest gifts of the season come when we have the ability to simply love, without expectation.


Dr. Dorothy’s life story of coming from an orphanage, being raised in the housing projects of South Boston, becoming a Catholic nun, an international airline stewardess, a wife, mother, graduate faculty member, Clinical Instructor at a Medical School, and so much more provides the perfect backdrop for her message of joy, humor, passion and faith as the necessary tools for life.