They were excited about experiencing a Christmas which included swimming costumes and sunscreen, instead of layers and layers of warm clothes, thick gloves and warm boots.
We went to the beach, outdoor carols by candlelight, had barbeques and enjoyed the long leisurely evenings together.
But as the days went by I sensed a lessening of the excitement. They found the heat exhausting, the cicadas deafening and it didn’t feel like Christmas. All the things that meant Christmas to them were missing, the snow, cosy fires and yes the layers of clothes. I understood.
They enjoyed their holiday but in many ways they missed Christmas.
How often do our expectations rob us of the joy of the present moment? Our expectations set up the norm ... maybe an experience of the past that seemed perfect ... it's becomes hard to settle for anything less.
But while we are hanging out for what our expectations demand, we are missing out on all the other things that are being handed to us to enjoy.
Once I spent weeks planning a special outing for someone, doing what I believed would delight their heart. While they enjoyed the experience they said it was just what they expected I should do. It robbed me of the joy of giving and the other person of the joy of receiving.
It was a light globe moment. I realised that if I was merely meeting expectations then nothing I gave could ever be a gift.
With no expectations everything is a gift.
That day I resolved to live the rest of my life without expectations, not so I wouldn’t be disappointed, but so that everything that comes to me is a gift.
A warm hug is a gift, a kind word, an invitation, a helping hand and a beautiful sunrise. Living without expectations allows for serendipitous moments. Life is richer and more colourful with gifts around every corner.
Although I don't always succeed, it's a decision I've never regretted ... it has been life-changing and I've discovered gifts in abundance.