I hate Christmas.
I shouldn’t say that (mostly because it’s not true, but also because I’m afraid you’ll burn down my house).
What I hate is all the “stuff’ surrounding the holiday. I don’t like receiving gifts, since I have everything I need and would rather people give to charity.
I don’t like buying gifts, either – the shopping, the stress over what to buy, the wrapping, the shipping. I’m exhausted by the need to crank out creative holiday cards or get my Christmas tree up on time. Each year when December approaches, I want to hide under my bed and pick off elves with a shotgun.
Here’s the irony, though – I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to Christmas. None of my loved ones are putting me in a headlock and demanding gifts. The police have not come to arrest me for failing to have a wreath on the door.
These are all expectations I’ve set for myself, and it’s a vicious cycle I repeat as a writer.
In my early years, I’d set goals I couldn’t possibly control – I will get a book deal this year. I will get an agent. I will write a manuscript so hysterically wonderful that a dashing male editor will arrive at my house wearing nothing but boxer briefs and holding a tray of cookies and a book contract.
Even now that I have the book deal and the agent (though sadly, not the cookies) I still make myself crazy with expectations. I will write funny blog posts every day. I will make my debut novel successful. I will write a follow-up book so hilarious my editor will rupture a kidney laughing.
I will drop dead from exhaustion if I don’t learn to knock it the hell off.
I’m trying, I really am. I'm opting not to do the holiday card this year, and I’m refusing to beat myself up over the fact that there’s no brightly festooned dead tree in my house or that I haven’t watched any Christmas specials on TV. Pythagoras and I stopped exchanging gifts years ago, so that helps.
I know I need to get better at it on all fronts. That means setting writing goals I can control and cutting myself some slack if I fail to meet them.
Do you share my habit of making yourself nuts with unrealistic expectations? Please share.
I will be sitting under the mistletoe sipping a glass of eggnog and waiting to have my stocking stuffed.