Halloween is over and it has officially started. You know what I'm talking about, the talks, the fights, and the guilt that attach themselves to deciding how to spend your holidays. I love the holiday season right down to my candy cane core but the stress that chains itself to the happiest time of the year is not for the faint of heart. In our case, the discussions begin months before the turkey is even thawed and stuffed. My family lives an hour and a half away and my husband's family is three hours away so spending a holiday with either of them rarely is a one day event. We love both sides of our families very much and in an ideal world, we would get to have everyone together for one massive holiday. But, as we all know, there are so many factors that prevent that from happening. Siblings have their in-laws to consider, aunts and uncles, and grandparents all have multiple families to see as well. Don't get me wrong, it's a great problem to have but putting everyone together at the ideal holiday dinner table is more difficult than putting together a 1000 piece puzzle of a clear blue sky. Choices have to be made. And it is tough. Oh, is it tough. No matter what you do, it always feel like you are hurting someone or someone is telling you that you are "picking favorites." In the hustle and bustle of trying to make sure you don't upset any extended family, there's also your spouse and your own nuclear family to consider. My husband and I both have favorite parts of the holidays with our specific families and it is unfortunate, but no matter how hard you try, it's impossible to keep every single family tradition alive for the next generation.
If extended family is not local, holidays can be transformed from a time for relaxation into a time of chaos and constant travel. When you have your own young family, it is important to remember that this is also the time to create new traditions and form a foundation of holiday memories for your children. Wouldn't it be sad if all our children remember from the holidays is spending an exorbitant amount of time in the car or in the air? It is for this reason that my husband and I have decided that no matter what, we will spend Christmas Eve and Christmas morning in our own house. We love hosting holidays and would love to have family to come to us but even if that doesn't work out, we have vowed to spend those two times in our own home. On Christmas Eve, we stay in pjs all day, make cookies, watch Christmas movies, and have a beautiful dinner made by my husband. It's a time for just us to relax and enjoy one another's company, a time to serve and host friends and family in our own home, and a time to make our own traditions. Our son will always get to wake up in his own house on Christmas morning, run down his own staircase, and open his presents under his tree. My husband and I both loved being able to do this when we were children and so deeply wanted that for our child. After leisurely opening gifts and getting ready, it’s then time to travel and enjoy time with our sweet extended family.
The holidays are a time for family and in making sure no one is forgotten or upset, we often forget what we, ourselves want. We tend to spend so much time worrying about, and making plans with, our extended family, we forget to carve out time for our own young family. And don't get me wrong, time with our extended families is so wonderful and so extremely cherished. Having a big family who loves you is one of the greatest gifts the universe can give and having them want to spend time with you is even greater but just as tectonic plates shift, so do our family dynamics. As we all grow with families of our own we will always cherish and participate in the loving family relationships of our childhood but as a new generation arrives, things change. We can’t spend every holiday with every family member no matter how much we would love to and choices have to be made. It sucks and it always opens the door for hurt feelings but it’s unavoidable. It’s about time we give ourselves some grace about it because we can only do what we can. And that’s ok. We may not get to spend every holiday with both sides but the time we do spend together is precious. Change can be scary, anyone will say so, but boy oh boy, can it be the the catalyst for the most beautiful new family memories. So this holiday season, see who you can, when you can, and try not to stress too much about pleasing everyone. We can’t make everyone happy all the time. I mean, afterall, we’re not Target.