A major consequence of my family being split into pieces, is that holidays are so much more stressful. Past the age of 6, there was never a Christmas where my sisters and I could wake up, enjoy breakfast and presents, and relax in our jammies the rest of the day with our family. Oh no. We HAD to wake up by a certain time, and there was a time limit of enjoyment at "home," because we were scheduled to be at our "other home" by a certain time, and from there go to grandparents houses. And, there was another glitch. Which grandparent? Which "side" would we see this year? Difficult decision, and a big burden to lay on small shoulders that they would be the source of hurt feelings to the grandparents that weren't picked that year. Ouch. Oh! And add to the mix that one set of grandparents were also divorced, and if one or both of our parents were remarried during that particular Christmas, there were also extra sets of step grandparents. And let me tell ya, if you happen to be taken to a step grandparent's home, and you didn't see your actual grandparent that year, there WILL be hurt feelings. Confused yet? Yeah, me too.....
Now, back to present day, grown up years. Now we have our own babies we want to have a little time with, there are in-laws that would like some time, parents, grandparents, great grand parents, company parties, church parties, and locations in at least 3 different states. Aaaaaaannnnndddd, sweet Ely's birthday is in December. How does a person handle that? What decisions should we make that will benefit the most people? Well, I don't have an answer for ya ;). But, I WILL tell you how we have tended to base our decisions since we've been married and had our own little family.
First of all, I have had to remove all guilt from myself. I did not break up my parents' marriage. I did not choose to refuse to get along with each other for the next 28 years so that family occasions could be a little easier on kids and grand kids. I am not being mean or malicious about anyone, but I can not lay that burden on my own shoulders, because it was never my decision.
Second, we have had to consider who is most important and will be most affected by what plans we make each year. Our answer to that is our four littles. It is not right to drag them all over the interstate, tired, stuck in a car seat for hours, overwhelmed by a sea of faces and wrapping paper, and still expect them to behave, enjoy themselves, and grasp an understanding of why we are even celebrating Christmas. Sometimes, we can be so busy, we forget to convey that the Lamb of God came to take away the sin of the whole world.
And last, we try to use a little common sense. If there are four events planned for the same day, we obviously can not go to all four. If certain family members will be at several different family dinners throughout the month, then we can narrow down to ONE dinner where we will see the most people that are important to us. We try to plan to go see Eric's family in Ohio for right after Christmas, when everyone else is already tired of seeing us ;). And we have to let hurtful and mean words not affect us when someone is hurt we chose not to come to their specific event. We love them, we do. But we can not do everything. And you can't either. I refuse to be in such turmoil in my heart because I need to do this and do that and be here and be there, that I can't even sit down with my kids and help them put stickers on a card they want to make for a friend. No, I do not want to hurt anyone's feelings, and no, I am not saying you aren't important to me if I don't come to your house this year. What I am saying, is that I have had to "pick" my whole life. And it has been a burden. I will not pass that burden to my babies. I will not have them feel they are obligated to push themselves beyond what they are able. If that is mean, I am truly sorry. If we could go every single place where family is, we would do it. But, we can't. And I suspect I am not the only one that has to make these difficult decisions each year. So, I am challenging you. Stop. Relax. Think of one thing you would really like to do this year. And do it. We aren't attempting to promote selfishness here, just that often so many expectations are placed on us by other people, who honestly do not realize that you are so stressed. They don't do it on purpose. We all know that. But regardless of intentions, we can still make a choice. I'm picking my husband and my babies this year.
What will you pick? Choices are hard sometimes. Life is hard sometimes. But, we can walk through it with joy, can't we?