Manuals for Christmas

It’s the gift giving season, and this year, I have it all figured out!  I don’t need to shop, wrap or worry because I have the perfect gift for absolutely everyone on my list!  It is called ‘A Manual’.  I have a list of expectations written down for how everyone should act and when they do…. I get to feel amazing.  Best Christmas ever!  

The Bah Humbug:

I poke jest at this gift, however, without even realizing it, this is exactly what most of us “gift” people with.  We have a Manual for our spouse or significant other, our parents, our children, our friends, even our neighbors, co-workers and grocery store clerk.  Again, a Manual is simply a list of expectations for how people are to behave so you can feel a certain way.  In ‘gifting’ this Manual, however, we set ourselves up for the exact emotions we are trying to avoid…disappointment, hurt or anger.  

The Gift:  

You have gone to a great deal of trouble to make Christmas dinner ‘perfect’.  You have pulled out all of the stops to “gift” everyone with a day to remember. You have ironed linens, china is set, silver polished and sparkling, house and table decorations Martha Stewart worthy, Christmas music playing with a fire cracking, ahhhh isn’t this going to be amazing.  

The Receiving:

Your favorite relative Aunt Betty walks in.  Gives you a quick hug and says “Merry Christmas” and then off to get a drink she goes.  You think to yourself, Aunt Betty didn’t even comment on the splendor you have created!  Irritation and disappointment begin to rise!  

You brush it off and greet the other guests and family still stinging a bit from Aunt Betty.  You are chatting with a few family members and Aunt Betty joins in.  She comments on how pretty the decorations are in town this year and how she is loving the lights in her neighbors yard.  Steam begins to furrow.  How about the decorations in the house you are currently enjoying Aunt Betty?!

The Exchange:

You are hurt that Aunt Betty hasn’t acknowledged your efforts or the wonderland you have created.  Aunt Betty clearly did not read her manual that said “you positively acknowledge the effort I made to make the house look festive.”  Aunt Betty has absolutely no idea she has hurt your feelings or not lived up to your expectations.  

The Return:

You show up a bit edgy with Aunt Betty.  You don’t enjoy the evening as much as you might have and Christmas seems like a whole lot of work.  All of this came from the thought that Aunt Betty should have noticed the trouble you went to so everyone could have a beautiful Christmas.    

The Wonder:

When we have a manual for people in our lives, I assure you, they will always fall short, you will always be disappointed and you will never enjoy people for who they are.  What if you stopped and got super honest with yourself.  Why did you really decorate your home to look like a Hallmark movie?  Perhaps because you love to make the house look festive and beautiful, is it possible you actually decorate for yourself as well as others.  When you put my emotional wellbeing in the hands of Aunt Betty noticing and complimenting you, you give away all of your ability to enjoy your own efforts regardless of what others feel or say.  Easier said than done I know, but totally possible and opens the door to true emotional freedom. 

Let’s suppose Aunt Betty had walked in and fawned all over the house and your efforts.  Perhaps you would feel proud, loved and appreciated.  But what if, just what if, you could feel those emotions without Aunt Betty needing to say anything.  What if you had the ability to feel those emotions regardless of what anyone said or did.  I am here to offer, that is possible.  It is just a matter of managing your mind.  Easier said than done I know, but totally possible and it opens the door to true emotional freedom. 

My gift to you:

This Christmas season, explore what manuals you have for people in your lives.  Do you have a manual for how your husband should behave or your Aunt Betty.  Then consider what this holiday would be like if you tossed that manual in the fireplace and just let people be who they are.  Imagine how simple this holiday could be if you didn’t have to try to control anyone but yourself!  You might find when you stop holding judgement and a need to control your family and friends around your table, you make more room to simply love and enjoy.  

Feeling a bit like a Grinch, click here and let’s chat.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas filled with Blessings.


  1. Erin S Harper

    How true this is sister. So funny I never even noticed myself doing these things.

    • nolagephartcoaching

      I hadn’t either Erin. It is amazing the shifts we can so easily make once we are aware! Thanks for reading!

  2. Kathleen Porter

    Thank you Nola! Very nice words to read at this time, of yest!!! Enjoyed the time reading your kind advice. Xoxoxo


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