Your Family Will Never Inspire a Normal Rockwell Painting

photo: Eden, Janine and Jim, Creative Commons

photo: Eden, Janine and Jim, Creative Commons

For some, this time of year is full of excitement and anticipation, but for others it is a time of dread and anxiety. The people portrayed in the famous Norman Rockwell painting or in the latest Hallmark movie create a longing for many that this holiday season will be different.

There is a cultural message that arouses our emotions to expect a similar sense of togetherness.

The expectation is we will look our best, wear our best, serve our best, and display our best. There is also an expectation about how we are to feel and think about the holidays.

But where do these expectations come from?

Whether you’re feeling the pressure from yourself or others, it’s important to take a moment to set realistic expectations for the holidays. The holiday season begins with Thanksgiving, a day set apart to express gratitude for blessings. It was not designed to break us emotionally, mentally, physically, or financially.  In fact, it should set the tone for the rest of the season.

If you are feeling more stress and sadness than peace and joy, here are a few things to consider:

  • Recognize when your expectations are subject to the culture’s fantasy rather than your own reality.
  • Remember that families can be messy and the truth is there is a little dysfunction in every one of them.
  • Realize you can’t change another person’s behavior but you can change how you respond to it and your attitude toward that person.
  • Focus on what matters most and give yourself the grace to set reasonable expectations this holiday season.



Ann Sheerin MA

Asheerin @