This piece was written for Daily Hive by Brianna Wiens.
Let’s get real.
Deep down inside, we all want our Christmas lives to be like Love, Actually right? (Except for the Emma Thompson/Alan Rickman storyline, and that guy that’s in love with Keira Knightley … Oh and poor Laura Linney. Wait – is that movie super depressing?)
Well, just like a lot of things that are heavily romanticized, Christmas can often miss the mark and send your expectations spirally downward faster than you can say, “Eight maids a milking.”
The good news is this happens to all of us at some point over the festive season, and if you’re prepared, maybe you can just laugh about it instead of crumbling into the fetal position wearing a reindeer patterned onesie, never to be seen or heard from again.
So as Santa day approaches, here’s a handy guide to help you lowering your Christmas expectations.
Expectation: You merrily stroll down streets decked out in festive trimmings, hopping from artisan shop to artisan shop, picking up unique and special gifts for your loved ones.
Reality: It’s December 23. You can’t remember the brand name of the designer water bottle your sister asked for. As you search google on your phone for things like, “artsy water bottle Vancouver”, people bump into you with their oversized Holt Renfrew shopping bags and murmur for you to get out of the way. Your winter jacket, as well as the pressure, is causing you to sweat too much considering it’s the dead of winter. You finally find the name of the brand that you’re almost 90% sure is right, only to discover that they’ve been sold out for over three weeks. The shop clerk finds it hilarious that you would think they still have them in stock.
Expectation: You’ve decided that the theme for this year will be “Scandinavian Christmas”: simple, stark and classic design, with intricate details that scream ‘class’! You spend an afternoon in the woods finding tree branches to decorate that not only look amazing, but make the apartment smell simply divine. When you have your holiday party, all your friends “ooh” and “ahh” at the sheer brilliance of it all.
Reality: You don’t have the time to go into the forest, let alone create handmade paper stars for the tree garland, so you quickly stop in at London Drugs to see what they have. All that’s left is an industrial bucket of baubles definitely not handmade and quite possibly the same design as from 1983.
You go into your storage unit, find a squished tupperware container and pull out all the hand me down decorations you’ve inherited from various family members from Christmas pasts. You try to set them up in some sort of array that looks purposeful mismatched and artsy, rather that what it really is: a mess of crap that will no doubt go back into the box and come out again next year when the same thing happens again.
Office Christmas party
Expectation: Your outfit is on point and the homemade rum balls you bring are a hit. You absolutely slay in the photo booth: cute, goofy, sexy, serious (but still funny). Those photos will definitely be on the company Instagram account tomorrow. You win the coveted gift certificate to Lululemon in the company giveaway. Cute Dale in Marketing is obviously flirting with you.
Reality: You spend two hours getting ready, only to discover your choice of dark purple lipstick is just going to wreak havoc on your face all night. You spend the first half of the night drinking rum and eggnogs (because it always runs out in the first hour) and crushing cheese puffs.
You realize everyone you work with is an out of control idiot in an adult body. You don’t win the Lululemon gift card because you’re pretty sure it’s rigged. Cute Dale in Marketing tells you, “You could be my office side project.” You drink more. The night ends in a blurry company move to the Cambie, a cab ride home alone (you can only assume – can’t remember), barfing (you’re lactose intolerant and you had a lot of nog) and falling asleep, purple smear all over your face.
Expectation: You meet while waiting in line at the bookstore. You’re both shopping for your mother. Sparks fly. You decide on a whim to go skating at Robson Square. It’s strangely quiet this close to Christmas: it’s almost like you have the place to yourself.
As you shakily skate in circles, you realize you both have a love of Stranger Things, pizza and pugs. You look into each others eyes and realize you meeting is a Christmas miracle. You slip, and almost fall, but he catches you by the arm, pulls you close, and just as it starts to snow, he kisses you. You get married the following Christmas in this exact spot.
Reality: You see his picture on Tinder. He’s kind of decent looking, and you decide to ignore the fact that in one on his shirtless photos you can make out a “Carpe Diem” tattoo. You meet up at Robson Square, but he’s running late because he’s just finishing his Christmas shopping (it’s the 23).
When he does arrive, he explains that he’s not a big fan of skating because he used to be a competitive figure skater and since his accident in ‘09, he just doesn’t have the fire any more. You go to a coffee shop instead. You order separately and he gets a cookie that he doesn’t offer you any of. You really want to like him so you get overly excited when he says he like pizza, because, oh my god, so do you! As you’re about to leave, he asks if you want to come back to his place to help him wrap his presents, and then “maybe watch Stranger Things. Have you seen it yet?” You go home and decide you will probably never get married.
Expectation: Your Pinterest board is perfectly planned. You have an entire Saturday at home to bake, listen to Christmas tunes, and be generally merry. You effortlessly finish 16 dozen different treats, all with a different colour scheme and flavour profile. You hand write the ingredients of each on a carefully crafted card and package them all up for your loved ones. You go door to door and hand deliver them. Everyone is blown away by your consideration and you receive texts for weeks to come about how “to die for” the pecan squares are. And the coconut balls with little Santa hats? TOO CUTE.
Reality: You’re in over your head. You tried to make too many things and now you’re elbow deep in butter, icing sugar and red sprinkles. You just realized you forgot to buy parchment paper but you don’t have time to run out so you just go for it. As one sad creation bakes, you quickly try to remember all the ingredients that went into the pecan squares and then realize, your boss is allergic to nuts, dairy and flour. The peanut brittle sticks to the pan and you curse loudly. There is no f*cking way you are going to get these little santa hats to stay on these coconut balls. You give up, start drinking and go online to see what is available on Amazon Prime.