Monday, December 30, 2013

Recovering from Christmas

Christmas Day was just a few days ago.  It feels like it was just yesterday.  I'm tired.  Being a mom never gives breaks.  But.  That's okay.  I had an interesting conversation today with a family friend.  Their Christmas this year was hard.  I felt bad for he and his wife.  

Christmas seems like it would and should be fun and easy to navigate.  But, it often isn't!  There's so many expectations that get wrapped up in Christmas.  Expectations about gifts, family traditions, what's going to happen when and who's going to come...  It's hard to navigate.

Back in November, I was a part of a conversation where two moms I know were sharing about how their own families don't have any Christmas traditions.  Each Christmas Eve and Day are held at their in-laws according to their in-laws' traditions.  As I listened, I felt a pang of sadness.  Did these in-laws realize what they were taking from these families?  When we grow up and start our own families, part of Christmas is forming a new set of traditions--partially taken from the wife's family and partially from the husband's and partially new to both.  These are traditions that our children will remember and associate are very special.  

The conversation really made me think.  The in-laws were also being selfish about wanting everything to stay the same and not changing.  I don't know these families personally and I say this from the outside listening in.  I also say this because I saw the same thing in my own heart.

Two years ago, my mom, mother in law, and youngest brother in law moved to where we live.  My husband and I had formed our own set of family Christmas traditions over the previous ten years.  My mom had been there each Christmas because that was her annual visit to our home for a week.  But, my mother in law and brother in law hadn't.  

Listening made me reflect on my own selfishness.  Have I been extending myself to my in-laws when it comes to my family traditions?  Am I holding on and not changing because I don't want to?  Am I including all in the discussion?  I perceived them as joining our family.  They perceived us as a part of theirs.  Perhaps neither is correct actually.  Perhaps, it is actually all our family and thus we all need to sit down and discuss, delegate, share, and rotate responsibilities.  If one person wants to always take the same holiday, that's okay--if it's okay with everyone.  But, I've realized it's good for everyone to get to host if they want to.  I realized that it's okay to let go.  It's okay to decide together.  And it's even okay to change.  I realized from listening that I needed to communicate with all my family why I want to do certain traditions and which family each one comes from, too.  

I also realized that I can do other traditions in my home that still make the holiday unique for my children and special just to us.  Christmas morning it's just us and our kids.  Everyone else comes around 1 p.m.  We open presents one by one and savor that time.  We enjoy it like a long meal instead of gorging ourselves the way I picture Animal from the muppets would probably open presents.  It's the way we like to do things.  Then, we get together with our family and enjoy the rest of the day together and one another's company. 

This Christmas was one of my better Christmases.  I was thankful that everyone enjoyed the gifts we'd picked out.  I was thankful that my kids were just starting to get colds, so they weren't too sick to enjoy all of it.  I was thankful that we all enjoyed being together.  A lot of work went into it and there were some bumps a long the way, but as a friend told me today---when you become an adult, you become responsible for the work that goes into Christmas!  

I am thankful for the love the Lord has blessed us with.  I am thankful for the children He has entrusted to us.  I am thankful to Him.  It was a rough year, but God is faithful and it is good to savor times of joy.

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