Anticipation vs. reality

By Joanne Peterson | Jan 19, 2012

I’ve long thought that the anticipation of a happy occasion is a gift in itself.

Anticipation lets the imagination roam, creating expectations, floating along on excitement that builds every day.

Since way before Christmas, I’ve looked forward to mid-January, when my son and family from Idaho and daughter and family from West Seattle would be together in my home for a belated holiday celebration.

I can think of no greater pleasure than to have my children home and all three grandchildren with me at the same time.

Of course, I already celebrated Christmas once in Seattle at daughter Lisa’s, but I was delighted to plan a family event in my home before I packed away the decorations, pulled the tree apart into its three pieces and mashed it into its long box to store until next year.

My children and their spouses and children were coming for a mid-January holiday, and my anticipation ran high.

In my living room during early January evenings, I sat in the glow of the little plugged-in fireplace, tree lights gleaming blue and gold and white, candles flickering. (Those candles—and a number of other items-- would need to be put away before that baby came to her grandmother’s.

I would do a “crawl-through” before her arrival, hoping to guarantee her safety.)

My three grandchildren would cluster near the tree, the two older ones opening gifts while 11-month-old Abby crawled about seeking her brother’s newest games and trucks, ignoring pastel blocks and anything girl-y.

Eight-year-old Annika would play games with Adam, five years younger.

I would sit on the couch with my son, sipping wine and catching up on what we’d been reading, while my daughter-in-law and son-in-law, important members of my family, chatted and watched their little ones.

My daughter’s laughter would rise above the noise of the children, as she observed the cousins in their deliberately silly play.

She and I would visit about progress on her new office at work.

I would sit among my family and watch everyone open gifts, one by one.

My brother would enjoy the good talk he and Annika always engage in. Oh, I could see and hear all this! 

I could feel the rush of pride observing what fine parents my children turned out to be.

Ah, yes, anticipation is a delight.

Unfortunately, several days before they arrived, I felt unwell.

I discarded lists left and right, took naps, focused on wellness, decided on take-out pizza. Simplified. Endurance meant more than anticipation.

My children and their families have come and gone—each of them a grand belated Christmas gift.

No, I don’t know what my son is reading or how my daughter’s office project is progressing or even what presents everyone received.

A lot I anticipated didn’t happen, but other things did, so it was OK. We had Christmas.

My grandchildren played sweetly, while my children visited. Everyone left yesterday.

Today a comfortable silence filled my home, and I slept many hours.

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