5 "Simple" Ways To Enjoy The Holidays
"The Holidays" begin next week! How in the world did this year fly by so fast? Normally I prefer listening to Christmas music after Thanksgiving is over. But when I started thinking about having a successful holiday season with our adult kids, a Christmas song immediately flooded my mind. Today I want to suggest five
ways we can enjoy our holidays this year, whether they look similar to what we are used to or not.
In thinking about this time of year and analyzing all my own feelings and reading various articles about adult children and the holidays, it struck me how much we truly live a circle of life. When I was a child, the holidays were magical - not perfect or without the occasional conflict, but full of traditions that left me warm and fuzzy, as they say.
Six months after Tom and I married, we moved to live in Nairobi, Kenya. We spent 3 years in Kenya and then 11 in South Africa. Our kids were born in Africa. From 1989 to 2003 we spent only one Christmas with our families. The other years we were in Africa. We missed our families, but were also happy to be building memories and traditions of our own.
While our children lived at home, Tom and I worked to weave together special traditions from each of our families to pass on to our children. We also added traditions that would become unique for our family of four.
Now our kids are grown and both are married. It's their turn to blend traditions and find their own unique celebrations. I'm sure we will sometimes celebrate together. Other times they will celebrate with their spouse's family. Some years they may choose to celebrate on their own.
What will I do with that?
How will Tom and I continue through life, enjoying memories and times together without holding on too tight to the past?
Will I be gracious?
Will I be supportive?
Will I be content?
The holiday season brings with it so many feelings. The years bring change. Those changes often bring blessings, but other times loss, loneliness, and sadness.
The older I get the more I realize how important it is to fix my eyes on Jesus. As Hebrews teaches, he is "the author and perfector of our faith." (Hebrews 12:2, NIV) His life provides the words, the examples, metaphors, and analogies I need to read to navigate the changing seasons with grace and peace.
Tom and I in Fredericksburg, TX last year beginning a new tradition.
Jesus shows me the way to enjoy my life today, just the way it is, without wishing back the past.
I didn't understand what it took for our parents to support our lives in Africa.
I didn't understand the emotions they might have experienced.
I didn't understand that my steps forward required their stepping back.
The circle of life. The dance we do, trying hard not to step on too many toes.
Do you remember "Santa Claus is Coming to Town?" One line in this song has been nagging me for days. "You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout..."
I remember times in Decembers past that I pulled this song out of my toolbox to inspire an "attitude adjustment" in my kids.
Pout or cry?
But then there was this from an adult child I interviewed...
"And another thought: One of the biggest things I appreciate about my parents is their unselfishness with us. They understand that I have my own husband and children, and
they come firs
t, and I also have
in-laws to consider
. My parents don't push to get their way.
They let me make decisions about schedules and visits and holidays, and they don't pout and make me feel guilty when they don't get as much time as I'm sure they'd like.
They are grateful for the time we do have, and we all make the most of it because it's such a treasure."
Ahhh. There is it. Our decision to make. Who will we become over the years?
Simple steps toward a successful holiday...
1. Decide to be "unselfish" and make it easier for them to juggle their nucleus and extended families.
2. Enjoy memories we have been blessed to share and remember that our adult kids will come to appreciate those memories even more as they age - that process is simply part of the circle of life.
3. Treasure whatever time you have the opportunity to share...no matter what the date on the calendar says.
4. Find one new "tradition" to can enjoy this year - on your own, serving others, with your spouse, or with other empty nesters that need a friend.
5. Write down one thing every day between now and the end of 2017 that you are grateful for. Gratitude always makes us happier.
These steps may not be easy to practice, but I am committed. How about you? The years will bring change, but I take comfort in knowing that Jesus understands my feelings and will help me find the grace to step back with a trusting heart.
Scriptures to ponder over the coming weeks:
- I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them, and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.
I Thessalonians 5:16-18
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
- It is more blessed to give than to receive.
- Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song.