As time goes on, traditions often change. Life is continually evolving, and it can be very difficult to maintain traditions. The way things were when we were children is no longer how things are. Many family members have passed away or moved, families have grown and have more demands placed on them… it’s just not easy.
Keeping that in mind, it can be very difficult to find a balance in trying to keep the traditions of the families of both partners in a marriage. His parents may want to continue to tradition of seeing their children (and grandchildren) open presents on Christmas morning. Maybe her parents want the same. And maybe, the husband and wife would like to be in their own home on Christmas morning. Lots of wants, and it’s not realistic to give in to them all.
For grandparents, as families grow, it is also increasingly difficult to coordinate schedules. Let’s face it, the holiday season is hectic! Work parties and school parties and charity events, getting together with friends, spending time with the husband’s family, the wife’s family.. then if you have a blended family, you’re likely dealing with visitation schedules on top of everything else.
So, is it possible to find a balance?
As always, it starts with communication. Just to brainstorm a few ideas,
1. Start by having everyone involved list their favorite Christmas traditions.
You may be surprised that maybe it’s not WHEN the events occur as much as it is some of the details. Some of my favorite Christmas tradition memories from childhood include listening to the family all sitting around my grandparents’ Christmas tree playing music and singing, or the playful banter over who fished out the last oyster from the oyster stew. Then there was the annual “dog pile on Uncle Jim” that my cousins kept going, and the one gift that dad hides for mom on the tree every year. The things memories are made of.
2. Coordinate calendars to look for a time that works.
Maybe one person could even be the family “secretary,” or you could use google calendars, which give you the opportunity to share your calendar with everyone else so you can see at a glance what days are free and what days are not.
3. Brainstorm about new possible traditions. Does your area have a festival of trees, or light displays in a public location? Maybe attending such a function together, then meeting together for some family time may be an option. I know of one family that has a “Christmas in June” family reunion and they all draw names for handmade gifts. What great ideas!
4. As has been mentioned in many previous articles, respectfully set your boundaries if needed. Lovingly express what you are okay with doing and what would be “too much.”
5. Remember that if everyone gets too caught up in the stress, schedules and details, it’s going to be hard to enjoy the season and praise our Heavenly Father for what it really means!
Keri Kitchen is a devoted wife and mother, blogger, licensed mental health counselor, and founder of The Carys Rainn Foundation. To read more about what God is doing in her life, visit her blog at www.aftertherainn.com and sign up for the mailing lists!