Over the next month or so I want to share Holiday plans and preparations with you. Of all the things I do as a parent, the hardest to simplify is the Holiday season. There’s Christmas, which is a simplicity nightmare in itself. But there is also both mine and Papa’s birthdays. And my side of the family does a four day beach trip for Winter Solstice. Starting with Thanksgiving, it feels like a tinsel-festooned roller coaster that I can’t stop.
I’ll claim responsibility for a fair part of the chaos. I love decorating and baking cookies. I love making thoughtful gifts. I want to have traditions sprinkled throughout the month and those traditions take time and thought and energy. But I love it.
What we are slowly learning to do as a family is adjust our expectations – and to help those around us adjust theirs.
After the first Christmas with Brother, Papa-Bug and I realized we wanted some holiday time quiet at home. We stopped going to his parents house for the whole day of presents and movies and dinner and what not. It was always kind of exhausting and meant a day out and social. We want the Little-Bugs to enjoy the mellow pace of the holidays, as well as the familial gaiety. Now we have Christmas morning at home – slow, unscheduled, mellow, and growing our own traditions. We go to Grandma and Grandpa’s for a dinner and presents.
This was disappointing for the grandparents, and for that I feel bad. But… These are the holidays and I don’t want us to go through them feeling like I have to meet others holiday standards and expectations. It’s important that we all feel comfortable and festive. It’s important to me that my kids have traditions linked to home.
This year, just this past week, we broke with tradition and spent Thanksgiving with Brother-Bug’s Godmommies instead of at a grandparent house. It was so relaxing. It was the Thanksgiving I have been wishing for. Close, quiet, no expectations, no historical familial drama… Good food and lots to be thankful for. Added benefit was watching Brother-Bug ground and center the way he does only with those beloved Godmommies.
Again, grandparents were sorry not to have our presence and for that I am sorry.
I’m not sorry for taking my family’s traditions into my mind and hands, making them into holidays that meet the needs and dreams of me, Papa-Bug, and the Little-Bugs. Those dreams will certainly involve biological and extended family. We are truly blessed that we have so many loving people who want to celebrate with us. I keep in mind that I am responsible for the Little-Bugs in this house having a fabulous time, and for building traditions that are comfortable and sustainable for many years. I am not responsible for how other people feel when I adjust our family’s traditions and Holiday commitments. We will continue to search for balance between obligation, expectation, dreams, desires, and realities. My focus is on having fun, all of us looking forward to each new holiday delight, sharing with family sometimes, with friends sometimes, and staying quietly at home reading “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” sometimes.
Every year I find a place or two that I can make a change and adjust my expectations. When I am looking forward to the holidays and looking for ways to simplify those holidays, a good place to start, in my experience, is with how much we do and with whom we do it.