For Mental Healthy Holidays, Let Expectations Fall Like Snow

December 4, 2012 Alistair McHarg

Have you heard this one already?

Three clinically depressed high-jumpers walk into a bar.

They lower it.

I’m kidding of course.

Then again, I’m not kidding, (as always), because if there is anything that will help today’s mentally ill individual survive the three-ring-circus of psychological torment and emotional Armageddon known by that deceptively sweet euphemism – the holidays – it is lowered expectations.

Why? With every layer of tinsel, every rehashed Christmas chestnut mangled by Beyoncé, every eggnog-infused martini, every promise of no money down and no payments for the first seventeen months, every drug-addled midnight greeter at Walmart scratching his most recent tattoo, every ill-considered fax at every office party, and every other cliché of Christmas cacophony and tintinnabulation comes the rising tide of truly ho-ho-horrible inevitability – the hopes, the joys, the fears of all the years, reindeer and pain dear – that Grinch-ish thief of all that is merry; expectations.

Those of us who have mucked out a foxhole or two after the elves have returned to their elf-help groups, leaving only ripped wrapping paper and the unnerving sound of gnashing teeth, know only too well that – an expectation is merely a resentment that has been booked in advance.

We watch the lemming-like inevitability of shoppers who resemble nothing more closely than poor Charlie Brown looking far across the yard at the relentlessly malevolent Lucy finger pointing down at the poised and ready football, believing deep within that dimwitted, soft-boiled egg of a head he has that this time it will be different.

Sadly, it never is. Fellow Whackadoomians, examine the terrible trap we must sidestep. Because it is the Santa-bag of expectations we bring with us – not the event itself – that causes our undoing.

Week after week, the entire culture conspires to deceive; is it any wonder we question reality itself and struggle to differentiate between what is, what might be, and what could be if only we had been less naughty and more nice throughout the year?

The entire communications infrastructure which now extends to gas pumps, check out lines in supermarkets, phones, rented movies, in short, everything we encounter in our daily lives, stokes the id until it roars like a voracious furnace – wanting, craving, needing and hungering for a mountain of flashy, splashy landfill-food made in China and destined for a useful life so short it would inspire pity in a drosophila before vanishing out the back end of our consumer economy. It all happens in the bat of an eye.

It was the redoubtable Taz Mopula who warned, “If I could give you just one piece of advice it would be this; do not, under any circumstances, take my advice.” In this spirit I will say that I would not presume to give you advice and if I did you would almost certainly not take it but if I did and if you did this is what it would be:

Want to enjoy your holiday? Ratchet down the level of your expectations to zero and start there.

APA Reference
McHarg, A. (2012, December 4). For Mental Healthy Holidays, Let Expectations Fall Like Snow, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Alistair McHarg

December, 8 2012 at 3:10 am

jeez! and i thot it was just me! happy whatever, people. if you must go among relatives i got this advice. let them exercise the hole in their face. nod, smile, never listen!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

alistair mcharg
December, 8 2012 at 4:24 am

Hi Judith! Thanks for reading, and for writing! - Couldn't agree more - smile and nod, smile and nod. Best regards, Alistair

Honshu Brontevich
December, 5 2012 at 11:37 am

Dear 'A':
One day soon, I have vouchsafed for myself that I will travel across the pond for Christmas. Dialing back expectations is easiest when one is not drowning under a sh*tstorm of mercantile hysteria, spewing from every conceivable ePort and eConduit. Tho' on second thought, maybe all that's needed is a little snow, a few hundred acres of north country woods, an empathic pal or two, and some cross-country skis. Or, better yet, in the much-venerated words of Walt Kelly's Pogo: "Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla Walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo!
Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alley-garoo!"
(And a very merry Christmas to you too, Mrs. Smedley, wherever you are...)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

alistair mcharg
December, 5 2012 at 12:42 pm

Nicely put, Honshu.
Say goodnight, Gracie.
Goodnight, Gracie.

December, 4 2012 at 2:26 pm

I'll have to ask Santa to do that. I have to admit that my high highs and low lows are very well moderated by my meds,thank God;I'd hate to be back where I started. Have a great week! C

December, 4 2012 at 1:16 pm

Speaking of lemmings-I've continued my yearly Black Friday tradition...I don't participate! As for naughty or nice,it depends on my moods, insanely manic or insanely depressed. They are kind of like the new North and South Poles. Overly high expectations do us in every time; I like Taz's idea of starting expectations at zero and going from there.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

alistair mcharg
December, 4 2012 at 2:15 pm

I think Santa should bring you a copy of Invisible Driving. - As ever - AKA - thanks for stopping by!

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