December 3, 2010
"There is joy for those who deal justly with others and always do what is right."
Psalm 106:3 (NLT)
"I don't like the holidays," I whispered.
I used to love holidays. Before I was married. Before I felt the pull to be everywhere at the same time. Before any decisions that I made left someone upset or angry or feeling left out.
I struggled with a desire to be home, to start my own traditions with my young children and husband. We were the first to be married in both families, and thus the first to break "how it's always been."
Thanksgiving was a time to be thankful. All I felt was stretched thin. Christmas was a time to be joyous but I usually felt frustrated.
As we had children, I tried to mask my frustration with enthusiasm. We had fun setting out pumpkins. We decorated the house. But inside I wrestled because I knew what was coming.
Looking back, I wonder why I didn't say anything. Instead, I simply let it fester. I didn't take into account that if I kept silent things would never change. I just simmered in anger.
Deal with others, but do what is right.
Thirty years later, I treasure the holidays. It took time, but we finally learned to share our needs. "Trying to be everywhere in such a short time is exhausting," we said.
We began by trying to see other's point of view. An empty nest left gaps that traditions used to fill. We didn't approach in anger, but with a willingness to work through the conflict with honesty and grace.
Some were open. Others were not, especially in the beginning. If they were flexible, we rejoiced. If not, we didn't take it personally. Change takes time.
Perhaps the greatest gift that we received came later. When our children married, suddenly there were several families in the mix. We told our children that it's not the date on the calendar that makes holidays special. It's the heart behind the holidays. It's spending time with people you love.
So, sometimes we get together on Thanksgiving, or maybe the week after. Maybe it's Christmas only, while Thanksgiving is spent with other family members. If they aren't with us on a specific day, my husband and I fill that time with a new tradition--just the two of us.
What we discovered is that by letting go, they come more often because there's no pressure. They let us in on their traditions. Regardless of the date, when we do get together it's so fun! It's a gift.
Maybe you've been singing the holiday blues. What is one step that you can take to change your tune?
Dear Lord, thank You for my family. I'm grateful for so many things, and one of those is family who loves me enough to want to be with me. Help me to share my needs with my loved ones, and to do it with grace and gentleness. Help me not to take it personal as they struggle with change. If I am the one that is inflexible, help me to bend and grow. Help me to be thankful every day for all that I have been given. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Visit Suzie's blog where she is doing a "Holiday" give-away!
The Mom I want to be: Rising above Your Past to Give Your Kids a Great Future
by T. Suzanne Eller
25 Days, 26 Ways to Make this Your Best Christmas Ever by Ace Collins
Click here for great ideas of how you can include others who may be in the same boat as you!
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Have you shared your needs? Articulate them on paper.
Share them at the right time, in the right attitude.
Don't take responses personally. Change takes time.
Exchange the holiday blues for a new song. Worship God as you thank Him for all the good things around you.
If I am the one struggling with change, am I willing to be flexible?
Instead of focusing on a specific date, I can focus on the heart of the holiday.
I'll write down all the things for which I am thankful to share with my children.
Psalm 106:1-2, "Praise the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord, for his is good! His faithful love endures forever. Who can list the glorious miracles of the Lord? Who can ever praise him enough?" (NLT)
© 2010 by T. Suzanne Eller. All rights reserved.
Proverbs 31 Ministries
616-G Matthews-Mint Hill Road
Matthews, NC 28105
Originally published Friday, 03 December 2010.