The Eve of Expectation

norman rockwell, christmas, maggie mcreynolds blogMore than any other holiday, it seems Christmas is expectation. We were raised with it, we cleaved to it. Our Advent calendars count down the days; retailers relentlessly remind of us of the time we have left to shop. Our early Christmases set the stage; our Christmas movies set the tone. Ask just about anyone—even someone who doesn’t observe the holiday—what Christmas is “supposed” to be like, and they can probably tell you, in meticulous detail.

But here’s the thing. Nothing, not even Christmas, can possibly live up to the vision in our imaginations, or the sentimental bar set so high by the media and our own childhoods.

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woman having panic attack, maggie mcreynolds blog


I got hijacked this weekend. Not by extortionists or terrorists or carjackers. Instead, I got hijacked by my own emotions.

It started when my mom, whom I haven’t seen in a couple of years, had to cancel a trip I’d arranged for her to visit me in Boulder. Even though I know my mom is as disappointed as I am and that we will find another time for her to come, I got triggered by old, old childhood stuff. “I’m alone in the world,” I told myself. “I’ll never be able to recreate the sense of family I had as a child.” And, more Eeyore-like, “There’s no point in looking forward to things because I just end up getting disappointed.”

Before I knew it, I’d been hijacked by my stories, and they were holding me hostage in an isolated, dark, depressing little room.

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angry kid, maggie mcreynolds blog

Stuff Your Stupid Uplifting Blog Post

Sometimes, I get really tired of uplifting blog posts. Or motivational quotes. Or inspiring stories of people triumphing against all odds. Or pictures of animals hugging each other.

Sometimes, I just want to be in a thunderously bad mood, all right?

Sometimes, I want to be a toddler having a tantrum. I want to stomp my foot and pound my fists against the floor, and scream, “It’s NOT going to be okay, it’s not it’s not it’s not!” I refuse to be cheered. I won’t breathe deeply, or imagine my ethereal higher self cradling me—in fact, just the thought of imagining that makes me want to run head-first into a wall. I don’t want to chant forgiveness mantras or hug a freaking rhododendron.

I will not be assuaged, damn it! Stuff is seriously sucking around here and I demand my right to be pissed off about it!

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