Summary: There is no other holiday like Christmas, where expectation is so much a part of it's celebration. We look forward to Christmas, longer, and with greater anticipation, then all other holidays combined.
Henry McCushy, of the Texas Employment Commission, said they had a hard time getting
men to be department store Santa Clauses, one year. The reason was, the high percentage of
children who were kicking Santa in the shins for not coming through the year before. They
expected Santa to live up to his billing, and deliver the goods as they requested.
Bill Adler, in his book, Letters To Santa Claus, reveals the hostility children can develop
because of their excessive expectations. One little boy wrote,
Dear Santa Claus, "Last year you didn't leave me anything good. The year before you
didn't leave me anything good. This year is your last chance."
Excessive expectation is the quickest way to the land of doubt, despair and the drop out. If
you expect God, your parents, your children, or anybody to cater to your every whim, you are
setting yourself up for a fall. And if you expect Christmas to meet your every need, you are
doing it again. There is no promise in the Bible that Christmas is the way, the truth, and the
life, and that by trusting in it, you can have abundant life. It is a form of idolatry to expect
Christmas to do for you what only Christ can do. Nobody's birthday-not even Christ's-can
meet all of our needs, and it is a major emotional mistake to expect it.
A large portion of the depression associated with Christmas is due to people's unauthorized
expectations. They expect milk to stop spilling, and people who haven't spoken to each other
all year to be friendly, and the whole world to stop the folly of war, murder, robbery, and
every form of evil, and they are shattered when they realize they can't even stop the spilt
milk. It is depressing if you expect Christmas to make the world a paradise. The first one
didn't do it, and to expect it of the next one is to expect what God does not authorize us to expect.
It is also unrealistic from the point of view of psychiatry. One psychiatrist wrote, "Any
celebration that sets up such unrealistic, magical expectations is very unfair to human beings.
People are pushed to deny the reality of their lives-their financial situation, their true
relationships. There is almost a delusional mood." In other words, people try to live in the
realm of myth. They buy things they really can't afford. They pretend to be more loving
than they really are, but it doesn't work very long, if at all. Tom Mullen says, "Seldom does
reality measure up to the artificial and sentimental vision of Christmas which Hollywood,
Hallmark Cards, the Chamber of Commerce, and our bad memories create for us."
He says, if we dream of a white Christmas and it doesn't snow, then we are upset, for even
the weather is against us. We go to get out the manger scene with the illusion it is ready to set
up. But what we find is a shepherd missing and a three legged camel. Suddenly, it is no
longer a manger scene, but a mangy scene. The family sits down to read the Christmas story
with the idyllic dream that the children will listen with awe, as if they never heard it before.
But one child is sure to say, let's open the presents right now.
The point of all this seeming pessimism is not to convince us that Scrooge was on the right
track, but to help us keep our expectations from being excessive. It is not only at Christmas,
but all of life can be damaged by excessive expectations. Dr. Howard Henricks of Dallas
Theological Seminary, one of the great marriage counselors of our time says, "The greatest
reason for failure in marriage is unrealistic expectations." People expect too much of each
other, and assume that they could, if they would, make every waking moment of life full of
excitement and satisfaction. Nobody wants to put up with the reality of monotony, boredom,
and routine. A runaway in Chicago said, "I've done everything-had all the thrills, and I don't
want to go on living. There's nothing more to anticipate." This is the pathetic end of those
hooked on the emotional drug of excessive expectation. Give me a thrill a minute or
Christmas is a bore, and life is not worth living.
Expectation is not foolish in itself. There is much enjoyable expectation that is a vital part
of the Christian life. No where is expectation more acceptable than at Christmas. We do not
start playing Easter songs weeks before Easter. There is no other holiday like Christmas,
where expectation is so much a part of it's celebration. We look forward to Christmas,
longer, and with greater anticipation, then all other holidays combined. The expectation is