Thanksgiving has been very different these last few years. Nate, our oldest, hasn't shared a turkey dinner with us since high school. That was six years ago. Now he's married and we're facing a new change-sharing the holidays with in-laws.
It's the season of life we're in. Are you?
Do you remember your new found freedom as a teen? Ahhh, college! You were able to do what you wanted whenever you wanted. The only one on the radar was YOU and your significant other. It was sweet freedom!
Now, as an adult of grown children I feel the growing pains of their separation. I'd love to have them spend every holiday at home, like it used to be! But that is not the way families were created. So we have to learn to grow and bend with the flow of the holidays.
Here are four tips to navigating through the holidays with grown children:
THE DAY IS JUST A DAY
One of the most important pieces of advice I got from a friend was not to make THE DAY the only day you can celebrate (Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays, etc.). Yes the day is important! However, nobody will be happy if Thanksgiving must be celebrated on Thanksgiving Day alone, along with any of the rest, particularly when we add in-laws. Focus, instead, on the gathering and being together. Be flexible to celebrate the joy of that holiday on different days. It makes the season last longer anyway and isn't that fun?
Focus, too, on making memories, not on being together on THE DAY. Isn't that what family gatherings are all about anyway?
Do you remember when you were younger and a bit selfish like I was? Give grace in those times. One of my friends talked about how young adults simply don't have the experience of being disappointed enough to be a little less selfish. That comes with time and with their own disappointments. Give grace and be forgiving.
This is probably the most challenging area. We assume or don't ask enough questions. We don't state what we want, then feel taken advantage of or left out. State your desires clearly and don't make any assumptions. Others can't read our minds! So don't set yourself up in this way.
MAKE OTHER PLANS
Would you love to spend Christmas on the white and pink sandy beaches of Turks and Caicos? How about traipsing around the Kilauea volcano at Hawaii's Volcano National Park? Why not tick off your bucket list plans when you know you're children will be with in-laws? Plan to travel and enjoy yourself so you're not left feeling alone. Do something fun for yourself! If you can't afford that, plan a day of pampering and doing something you love like scrapbooking or quilting.
When children grow, everything changes including the holidays. That tugs at our mama hearts. I so miss those days when my kids were young and we were all together. But families change. And that is good. Follow these four tips and you're sure to avoid major pitfalls and have a more joy filled holiday!