Twinkling lights and smells of gingerbread greet me around every turn. Even the star atop the tree seems to be signaling that Santa is on his way. Yes, the holidays are upon us and expectations are high. This year will be different. This is the year that it will all come together. All my planning and hard work will be worth it, and I will finally create the most magical season ever. This year will be just like a Hallmark movie. This year will be perfect.

Sound familiar?

We all want the perfect holiday season don’t we? We plan, prepare and work to set the stage for a season of laughter, togetherness and magic. We lay the groundwork in hopes that our children, family and friends will experience joy as they never have before. It is a time where we have expectations of ourselves, of others and even expectations are sometimes placed upon us by loved ones.

We expect a reaction to a gift we give, a meal we prepare or an event we plan. We expect that all of our hard work will be appreciated and that it will be worthwhile. Auntie even expects her favorite dish at our annual cocktail party. Expectations go hand in hand with the holidays. But is this really a good thing?

Here is a quick two step plan to help you let go of expectations and make the most of your holiday season:

Step 1: Live in the moment


When we expect something to turn out a particular way or feel obligated to uphold a tradition because it is expected of us, holiday stress and disappointment isn’t far behind. I can’t tell you how many holidays have been ruined because I didn’t live in the moment or let my expectations of how things “should” be get the best of me. Spend this season enjoying moments with family and friends as they happen. Stop worrying that your Norman Rockwell vision will be replaced with a scene from Chevy Chases’ Christmas Vacation because it just might and that will make for lasting memories and stories for another time. 

Step 2: Be spontaneous

Expectations can hold us back and prevent us from experiencing life as it happens. Some of the best holidays have been those where I allowed the magic to happen spontaneously.

Who could have planned for a child to wake up mid stocking placement, causing my husband to drop everything and run spontaneously creating a magical moment? To this day my children talk about how they caught Santa that one Christmas Eve and the spontaneous combustion of the best made plans sparked magic far greater than anything we had intended. We could have been upset our expectation of Christmas morning discovery was ruined, but the screeches of “we saw him” amidst broken candy canes and rolling oranges long before the sunrise was so much better.

As the season gets into full swing, I invite you to let go of any expectations you have. I encourage you to live in the moment and be spontaneous! Please let us know what magic happens in your home!


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Known by military spouses around the world as The Direction Diva, Judy Davis is a motivational speaker, military lifestyle blogger, advocate and author of Right Side Up: Finding Your Way When Military Life Turns You Upside Down as well as the essay “My Son’s Battle” in Stories Around the Table.  A military spouse herself, Judy blogs, writes and speaks with a passion for helping military families become stronger as they navigate the challenges of military life. To connect with Judy, read her blogs or obtain information about speaking topics, seminars and programs visit: (Inspiring Military Spouses) or (Revealing The Unspoken Truths of Teen Suicide Ideation, Depression & Addiction).