Moving away from family when you start your own family can be liberating and solidifying for your marriage. But when the holidays come, it means making a choice between staying home or hitting the road. When you do you go? When do you stay home? When is the time when you finally decide that Christmas will be at your home on the 25th?
There are so many expectations that we put on ourselves and others when it comes to family gatherings. But I believe it can be less dramatic and more meaningful when you plan ahead with all of your family.
Young couples with no children, this is your time to be flexible. While you may want to start your own traditions, keep in mind that you have the easiest time traveling and scheduling. It’s important to make your extended family a priority, but don’t feel as though you have to accommodate 10 different family gatherings. You may need to alternate between Thanksgiving and Christmas for the various celebrations.
Empty nesters, you also can be flexible and accommodating. You not only have the time, you likely have more resources than younger family and can give generously in more ways than one to make family celebrations meaningful. Offer your home for a gathering. Offer your resources for a central location to gather. This could be a great way to give to the entire family.
For those parents right in the middle, I believe you have limited time for those kids under your roof and if you prefer to stay home on Christmas day, then do it. Allowing your children time to enjoy their gifts and time with their parents is so important in a world that wants to pull your attention in all directions. Our little ones need time with unoccupied parents. Our teenagers also need your undivided attention. One special day at home with limited screen time for everyone is not too much to ask. Maybe you want to leave because a day at home with your family doesn’t sound that fun. Just try it once and see what happens. You’ll be amazed at how much your kids love your involvement!
Planning ahead will eliminate confusion, frustration and will help keep expectations in perspective. Make sure everyone knows what you’re going as soon as you know so those planners can plan!
Whether you eat on paper plates or matching Christmas dishes, enjoy the closeness of your kids. When we leave this earth, the only thing that will matter is the impact we had on others for the glory of Jesus Christ. Our influence on our kids is greater than we believe. Don’t take that for granted! Be their number one influencer!