Saturday, December 15, 2018

Finding Our Own Rhythm with Family Holidays

When my husband and I first married, we about went crazy with trying to please our parents. And since my parents are divorced, we had to contend with trying to not offend either side of my family by inadvertently showing favoritism on holidays. It was difficult.
Creating healthy ties with in-laws requires good communication and patience. I've learned some important lessons over the years within these two ideas. In regards to good communication, it took me some time to develop the courage required to express my needs to my parents about my husband and I developing our own traditions with Christmas. Since everyone wanted us to spend Christmas Eve with them, we would run around all day and exhaust ourselves. My husband put his foot down and said we would need to tell all of our parents that we couldn't do it anymore. We decided to pray about how to go about telling everyone.
After praying, I felt a peace come over me. I had asked the Lord to tell me what to say as I approached each set of parents. I started with my mom. She surprised me by expressing her understanding and offered to join us on Christmas morning at our house for breakfast. I was more than relieved at this idea, and we still do Christmas breakfast with her. Next, I called my dad and asked him what was most important to him about Christmas and us spending time with him? He said he'd really like to have us come for Christmas Eve, but not to worry about Christmas Day or the extended family party. Again, I was so relieved and thankful. Last, I called my husband's mom and asked her how to do Christmas. She said it was really important to her to have the family together for Christmas Day dinner. I told her we could do that, but not the other two parties for extended family that her side of the family held. She agreed and surprised me with how understanding she was.
All of this occurred before children came along. Once we started having babies, we had to again revisit the plans on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Now, with teenagers, we've been able to establish the expectation that we are going to stay home for Christmas but grandparents are always welcome to stop and visit if they'd like. We've found that it is too difficult to run around and visit everyone on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Our family needs the holiday to be quiet and peaceful. We've found our groove and we're happy with how it has taken shape over the years. When we initially pulled out of the extended family dinners, there was some protest from my siblings, like we were betraying tradition. I held my ground with a gentle but firm standing and told my siblings that our family needed to establish our own traditions.
I don't want to put the pressure on my children that my parents put on us when they are first married. There is a fear as a mom that my children will never come home once they are married. But I have to trust that they will still want to see us and visit with us when they are adults. Holidays will be different, but it will be okay. I find myself cherishing these times I have with my children while they last. And I have a continual prayer in my heart that the Lord will comfort me when my husband and I are empty nesters. We need to trust our adult children. They will find their way back home in their own way. And it will be beautiful.

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