Thursday, September 24, 2009

Creative Ways to Solve the Dilemma of Family Time

Holidays, though wonderful and heart-warming, can bring on unwanted stress at a time when we think we should be enjoying ourselves and having down time. However, because many of us have limited time off from work and lots of places to go and people to see (family members and friends), the dilemma of where to go and when wreaks havoc on our notion of “peace on earth.”

Our family worked out a solution during my first year of marriage to Bret. That year (1988) we spent Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas with his. We’ve alternated every year since. While we’ve made the occasional exception—two years ago we hosted Bret’s family and my family in our home for Thanksgiving—we try to adhere to this schedule. It means that siblings, and even extended family members, can plan accordingly and maximize togetherness!

Circumstances can become more complicated with divorces and remarrying. The key is setting boundaries that allow you and your children to walk the fine line between honoring parents and establishing traditions within your own family. First, discuss the situation with your mate and, possibly, your children if they’re old enough to be involved. Ask yourselves what’s important to you during holiday time. Is it having time to relax? Is it honoring traditions that you’ve held dear? Is it making memories with your own family, your children? Go from there in setting up the best times to visit. And, remember, Jesus wasn’t really born on December 25th, so we celebrate His birth on a “random” day anyway. Perhaps you—or your parents or in-laws—could be a bit more flexible on when you spend time together.

I’m sure some of you have far more experience than I do in dealing with this issue. What has worked for your family? What has backfired? What advice can you offer others, particularly those who may just beginning to establish those family traditions?

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