Sunday, October 28, 2012

{31 Days to a Stress-Free Christmas} Day 28~ The Family Juggling Act

 Balancing Family get-togethers can become very stressful for some families. When Dan and I got engaged both of our extended families lived at least 2 hours away from us. My family wasn't used to having me go elsewhere for the holidays but we spent Christmas eve and Christmas morning with Dan's family and then drove to my family later Christmas day. The next year was our first Christmas as a married couple and instead of honoring my husbands wishes and staying home, I  bent under pressure and we went to visit my family on Christmas eve and then went to see Dan's family the day after. When our fist daughter was born we also gave in and went to visit family on Christmas day. After that year, Dan and I 
decided that from then on we were going to stay home on 
Christmas day. Because family lived so far away, we didn't think it was fair to our children to open up all their gifts,  pack them up, tell them they had to leave everything home, to go visiting for several days without them having time to enjoy playing with the toys they received. At first, this didn't go over too well but eventually the extended family got used to it. We do make a point to try to see all the family sometime during the Christmas week. If everyone lived locally, we might do things a little different but I would 

still be home on Christmas morning. So, how do you balance family obligations without feelings getting hurt? The first thing I do is to pray about it. I always feel more secure with a decision that needs to be made when I know what the Lord wants me to do. If all of our family lived locally I would offer to host a gathering at my home for everyone. I have a friend who would invite both sets of grandparents to share Christmas brunch and gift opening time every Christmas morning. Another friend of mine, who is one of five children, all married with kids of their own,  gets together with her family a few days before Christmas. Instead of cooking they all chip in and order pizza and exchange gifts. Now that my oldest is married with a family of her own I didn't want to put pressure on her to have to feel like she had to do what we wanted her to do for the holidays. Because her husbands parents are divorced, she needs to spread her visiting out between 3 households. I suggested they spend Christmas eve with us and we do our gift exchange then. This leaves them free on Christmas day to either stay home or visit others. Usually they stop back by later Christmas night to see what Abi got for Christmas but there is no pressure if they feel like they just need to go home after a long day of visiting. Whatever your family obligations are, remember that Jesus is the real reason we celebrate Christmas so keep your eyes on Him as you balance your own family with your extended family. I'd love to know how others balance family obligations, especially if your extended family is local. Leave me some ideas in the comment section. 

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