“Mom, I can’t come home for Christmas.”
I hope this post reaches all the right people. It would be those of us who have grown children. The circumstances may vary but for the most part, these grown children are balancing multiple family holidays. One family sacrifices…and one will win. Oh, wait…
That sort of thinking is how sadness, heartache, and disappointment begin…
I write this post because it happened to our family this year. Raya, our oldest daughter, newly married, lives 6 hours away. She also lives in the town of her husband’s family. At Thanksgiving she let us know that they would come home for New Years, to celebrate Christmas. She didn’t say it with guarded breath. She didn’t ‘break-it’ to us. She simply stated it as it was a fact.
The truth is, it was a fact. What should be my reaction?
Do I challenge her decision? Tell her I am disappointed, be upset or even mad? It sort of caught me off guard. I simply said, “Oh, okay. So we will do Christmas then?’ She smiled and said how much she is looking forward to it. And so did I.
I was shocked that my initial response was not about what my needs were for the holiday. I had no pretense to think I knew her needs either. I was surprised I didn’t persuade, push, or even manipulate. (Let’s be frank-it is easy to fall victim to this thinking and to not even be aware that we are doing it.)
So, yesterday they arrived happy and sweet. We did presents and played cards with our Christmas music going and fireplace on in the background, everything feeling exactly the same.
Here is a picture of us at church this morning – continuing to follow our Christmas traditions. Our faith (Jesus), our love, our sharing of gifts, and some fun all wrapped up in the spirit of Christmas, one week later.
Do you suppose God cared that we did this a week late? I think to myself of the drama, the demands, and the stress I could have put on the holiday and our family had I stepped into the powerfully dangerous place of controlling others.
I am grateful for this year’s peace ‘in any and all situations’ that fell over me and our family. We had a wonderful time this weekend with Raya and Craig, as well as last weekend with Riley and Jeff’s family.
Too often I have to learn lessons the hard way, so there are many praises lifted up to God on this one. I chose to do this post because I got two messages this holiday season asking for input on how to handle this very situation. Here are the three main factors I feel helped bring me to this place.
- I had wise counsel. I am a part of the most wonderful Bible study with many amazing, loving, and wise women. Many of them a few years older than myself and who have already made it through the first couple years of sharing loved ones. Thank you, friends, for teaching and guiding me.
- My parents. My dad and step-mom graciously shared their time with me, sometimes weeks before or after the holiday. They always made it feel like Christmas – no matter the date. My mother and step-dad lived 12 hours from us. Traveling in the winter months for Christmas was often not an option. My mother never put guilt or pressure on me. Actually, it was all handled very matter a fact. Just like my sweet Raya did to me. (The gift I received was a bit more insight as to how they so graciously accepted the blending of families and time).
- A deep relationship with Jesus. When we embrace the grace and mercy of Jesus we begin to see, live and feel life with a bit more grace and mercy ourselves.
To end, I simply share with you what has been first taught to me, and I hope it brings some new insight to one of the difficult parts of this beautiful season.
Grace and mercy my sweet friends,