If you came over from Encouragement for Today, welcome!
It’s interesting that this devotion fell on this week, because as I’m writing it, it’s Thanksgiving. My grown children are all with their other families. My grandbabies (one brand new granddaughter born on Monday!) are with their other grandparents.
And while I miss them, I realize this devo has become much more than words. It’s transforming. At least, it has been for me.
I shared that when we were first married, it was a struggle. I loved holidays, but soon they just became exhausting. We tried to be everywhere, and inevitably someone would be disappointed in us. Talk about a double bind! Eventually we shared our needs. And to our relatives’ credit, many of them loosened up.
And if they didn’t? Respectfully, we acknowledged that it was pretty awesome to be loved by so many people, but still slowed it down so that holidays were no longer a blur.
Yesterday was our second Thanksgiving to spend without family. We planned ahead to make it a special day.
We hiked up Sparrow Hawk bluff and took in the beautiful bluffs overlooking the river below. Later we had a movie fest, hanging out in our sweats and catching up on flicks we had missed.
It was wonderful.
I’ll see my children this weekend, and with thanksgiving I’ll celebrate the gifts I have been given in these beautiful adult children, their spouses, and my three grandbabies.
And resentment, anger, disappointment, ultimatums, tantrums, frustration will have had no place in my family, or in my home, or my heart.
Maybe you’re reading this and you’ve put high expectations on a young mom or dad and their family. Are you willing to take those expectations off, and offer them a gift of flexibility?
Maybe you are a young (or older) mom or dad and the holidays aren’t your favorite because you feel pulled in ten different directions. Are you willing to share your needs gently, and with respect?
Today, I’m offering a giveaway of LeAnn Rice and Karen Ehman’s new ebook, Untangling Christmas to one lucky winner today. Just leave a comment below!
Thank you for this devotion. I am going to be sharing this with family members & making sure I keep myself in check this holiday season:)
Your devotion was right on key today. My husband and I started our own traditions a few years ago and one side of the family was flexible and receptive the other made things so bad now we have no contact. May you have a blessed Thanksgiving with your family this weekend.
Another reason to be thankful for my parents who know and practice flexibility. And for the family traditions that my husband and I are starting with our small children so they might have unhurried time to enjoy the holidays. I pray that we are as wise and open-minded when our children need the flexibility. Thank you for your posts.
I just found your blog today from the encouragement site and i thank you for your insite. Your experience was unfortunately all to familiar in our lives today. You were so right in saying it is family joy not the date we need to cherish. Thank you again and God Bless.
I love this!! We used to be pulled in too many directions and it took many years and we are still in progress!!! But we will get there!! Thanks for this entry!! Have a great holiday! !!!
I’m missing my grown daughter and her family (including my one and only grandchild!) this holiday because they are visiting the other set of parents, and that’s OK. I remember all too well the feeling that I couldn’t enjoy the ones I was with because I felt like I should be with the other ones too! Thanks for the reminder that it’s not the date, it’s the people.
Thanks so much for the sharing of your feelings. I was especially missing family and I needed to release or ease my hurting heart. By accepting what was happening and being grateful for what I do have I am able to find peace.
Susie – Christmas was always my favorite time of year until 2004 when my brother took his life on Christmas Eve. After that i felt like I had to Endure another year of pain & heartache while every one else enjoyed their Holiday. SLOWLY God has changed my perspective and this year I am determined to remember how blessed I am to have so much (My husband, my friends, a job). I will not dwell on the terrible event. I do miss my brother and wish he were here but the reality is that I can be thankful, joyful and remember each and every day Who Loves me(JESUS)and HE holds me in His hands and carries me thru all the pain and suffering. Thank you for the encouragement. Its true that its not about the “date” but about people, the most important one being my awesome Saviour !!
thanks for these sweet, encouraging words. i’m so thankful our families (mostly) understand the pull we have during the holidays. with 4 small kiddos we try to be as flexible as we can but set limits at the same time. NOT ALWAYS EASY but so worth it. <3
So very true and so important to learn at any stage of family life. Thanks for blessing us with your wisdom and encouragement
timely encouraging words. THank you
Yesterday was our first holiday together as a married couple and we spent it at home just the two of us. Reading your devotion this morning brought tears to my eyes. It was like you read my heart and mind. This was the first holiday I didn’t wear myself out trying to meet everyone else’s expectations and be everywhere at once. As in your experience, some folks are being understanding and some are not. I appreciate all of the comments and the encouragement of not being alone in this struggle. My thanks to you and all who have shared their stories. My prayers today are for all of us who are feeling like the frayed rope in a tug-of-war between families, responsibilities and our own unmet needs. Thankfully we have a Savior who is able and faithful to meet all our needs!
What a very true and helpful post! My husband and I have been married for over 14 years and every year the issue of where we will spend the holidays is, well…an issue. Since my husband is a pastor, it drastically limits the days we are free to travel since it is not easy to get out of the various church events & services planned for this time of year. I used to stress out over trying to make everyone happy and then spend my holidays pouting because I wasn’t happy! My parents gave me the gift of no-pressure this year, and even made the 10 hour trip to spend Thanksgiving with us since we couldn’t get away! What a blessing! I will definitely be re-reading this post and soaking up your wisdom to use when my daughters have families of their own. Thanks for sharing your heart!
My holiday season began with dinner at my husband’s aunt’s house. 80+ of his nearest relatives went through the doors. For the past 25 years I sat in a corner wondering who they all are and where do I fit? Then at home on Friday as my four children sleep I try to put my own life into perspective. My 3 girls at 20,18,and 17 are all in college and enjoy the adventure. They seemed to find someone to visit with or observe. My son at 15 has always been expected to hang out with the boys and that was a strain for him. I want all my kids to be happy, so that is a strain for me too.
So, today I am going to get a late start on Black Friday shopping, after the girls sleep in until 8. We have never gone into the Black Friday shopping thing, or day after Christmas either.
I completely tracked with the beginning of your blog today. I have let all the different events get me rattled in the past. I have 3 weeks left of school myself. I am excited to graduate and enjoy my last weeks. I have love going back to college. Now I need a job under my tree this Christmas.
The expense of the Holidays has always been difficult. Wanting to make the “reason for the season” not be a cliche to short my children on being blessed. (We have had some amazing blessings through the years…people give Christmas to my family we could never afford. )
This year I just want Peace among my family members and a joyous new year.
Your devo was spot on! Thanks for the encouragement.
Thank you for the confirmation. I cried all morning thinking I should have not made changes to tradition this year. I decided to have my own thanksgiving and invited both sides of the family. One accepted and the other did not. It hurt deeply to know that my own extended family was not here. I lost my dad this year and things just have not been the same. No matter how much I reach out, it’s never enough. But God taught me a wonder lesson a few weeks ago about mercy and grace that I will extend to my family and not try to take it so personally. Thank you for giving me hope today.
Last year was the first Thansgiving and Christmas without my youngest daughter. Wow did I have the Holiday Blues. This year I began to feel that way because I haven’t seen many of my family for several years.
Your devotion was just what I needed!
Thank you for the holiday devotional. I appreciate where you remind us to be thankful for being loved by so many who want to see us on the holiday. That little change in perspective is sometimes all we need to appreciate what we have.
I want to thank you for your encouraging and timely words. My husband and I spent yesterday alone, after enjoying a lovely day with our daughter, son in-law and two grandchildren on Wednesday. I mean that sincerely, it really was a lovely time, we had the turkey and all the fixings. We have children all over the country, so we are grateful to live close to one! It was difficult for us, but we gave up Thanksgiving day with them – so we could have them all to ourselves the day before. However, I didn’t realize how difficult it would be for me yesterday. I had a heavy heart all day. Missing everyone and imagining what it would be like having them all together for the “perfect” day. We did our best to catch up with all of our children by phone. My husband and I went to a movie and had a great time! You’re perspective today was just what I needed today to put it all together. Thank you for sharing your heart.
I read the daily devotion for today and wondered how you knew how I was feeling. Then I clicked on the link and came to this entry on your blog, and I felt like you were really reading my mind. After having a houseful of relatives from my husband’s side, our daughters and sons-in-law, one grandchild, and one son-in=law’s brother and HIS girlfriend yesterday, I am just exhausted. One daughter and son-in-law spent the night and just left. It is noon and I am still in my jammies. My energy is zapped. My daughter and I talked about the plans for Christmas and something in me just wants to stay home on Christmas morning. We will have our immediate family celebration the morning of the 24th, the extended family get together that evening, and then plan to visit our second daughter and her family later on Christmas Day to check out the gifts our 2 year old grandson received. Why can’t my husband and I just stay home Christmas morning? Sleep in a little? Enjoy a leisurely breakfast? Listen to Christmas music. Relax. Thanks for the encouragement to do just that. Merry Christmas to you and your family!
Thank you for your words. & sounds like you had a wonderful thanksgiving with your husband. =)
Thank you for sharing your thoughts on holidays. We learned when we first got married 31 1/2 years ago to give and take when it came to celebrating holidays with both sides of the family. Now that 3 out of 5 of our own children are married, we’re giving them the same freedom and what was really neat this year, all our offspring and all my parents offspring that live in this state chose to spend Thanksgiving at my parents! And everyone chipped in with helping prepare the food so it was a real family effort! This was a really enjoyable holiday for me because I love it when the family is all together – something that hasn’t happenen in almost 2 years!
I definitely feel the pull in all directions. I am the first in my family to get married and have kids, and my husband has one sister married. Both families still celebrate holidays with extended family, so there are multiple get-togethers for each holiday. We finally had to set limits for what we would attend bc it just became too much. Some family members aren’t happy with the new “schedule”, but at least I can now enjoy the holidays and enjoy my young kids without feeling overwhelmed and without tiring the kids out either.
What a great reminder!
Thanks so much for the both posts today! I remember when I went through exactly what you are talking about as we began our family. Establishing our own traditions and having time to just enjoy our children was of extreme importance to me. We are finally at a place where we have worked through the challenge of change and enjoy time with extended family at a slower pace than was once expected:)
Thank you for this. We too started our own tradition yesterday by staying home instead of going somewhere. It was a decision I made months ago and I don’t regret it one bit, 🙂
Your ideas on sharing holiday time with family could reduce stress for so many! Thanks for sharing! I want to wish you Congratulations on your new grand baby! What a special blessing!
Great devotion. I’m a grandma of two adorables, a boy 10 mo and his sister 3.5 yrs. 2 adult children (1 married) that serve the Lord, and enjoying the different phase in our life. Holidays can be stressful but we don’t need to let it be. Especially black friday? I just went to Costco and that was good enough for needs of a few things for family cuz there were some good sales there! Have a good weekend and Congratulations on another bundle of love in your family!
thank you for this devotion and the reminder that it is not the date it is the people. I hope I hold on to that
My aunt’s family used to celebrate their immediate family Christmas on Epiphany (Jan. 6) They found it to be a much less stressful way to handle it.
This message was so spot on! I found myself feeling frustrated yesterday, but had to remind myself that my job was and is to be thankful for all things… What God has given me and even what He hasn’t.
Thank you so much for your devotions and blogs!!! As a ‘prodigal’ daughter, it is so encouraging to be able to come here and read and learn…I’m like a sponge now, trying to get as much of Him as I can!:)
Thank you so much for this. It was exactly what I needed to hear!
Thank you for the devotion from a grandmother’s perspective. It was an encouragement for me to be proactive in leadership. Sometimes our children want to please us while making themselves uncomfortable in the process. Honesty and love must rule the day.
Thanks for the reminder that it is not the date that matters, or even tradition, but just celebrating God’s gifts and praising God for each and every day before us. My husband and I had a similar experience the first several years of marriage. We learned pretty quickly that we wanted to have Christmas in our home and start our own traditions, and that running a race during the Holidays was not what we wanted for our family. I’m regonizing now, though, with the help of your post, that I’m going to have to start loosening up and letting go of some of those traditions, as my parents had to, as my kids are getting older, and family situations are changing. We are at my in-laws for Thanksgiving this weekend, and my mother-in-law made a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner for us on Thanksgiving. We were traveling, so I didn’t get to help as much as I usually do. The rest of the extended family came last night, on Friday, and she cooked another big meal. I wish I would have told her it was ok to just wait and do one meal on Friday, she didn’t have to make a turkey on Thanksgiving just for the sake of my tradition.
Thank You for the touching devotional. It made me cry as I am longing for God to restore a broken relationship between my oldest son and myself. I am reminded that it is okay to share our concerns/feelings, just how we do it is important. My two sons don’t talk to each other either, so holidays are very hard for me as I long to be able to have my sons and their families with me together for a few of them. Since the divorce between their father and I the family has become more divided and the hurt becomes great at times. Thank You for your encouragement.
Thank you so much for this beautiful and wise devotional. I, too, fetl slot of pressure from my family, until we finally moved out of state! We have had to disappoint them several times, but everyone has survived! Although my own children are still in their teens, I plan to take your advice to heart when they one day have families of their own, and remember what is truly important–the people, not the dates. I pray that your sharing has greatly benefitted many!!
Thank you for your devotional! I use to love Christmas! Not sure I can put my finger on what changed that, maybe some bad choices that left bruising during this time of year. I will pray that God will show me the direction I need to follow, so that I can give the love of Christmas to my children and enjoy this time again myself. Thank you again, be blesed!
oh, I forgot to ask you to please enter me into your drawing. Thank you!
Thank you for this encouraging post. You had me at the opening sentence – your emotions and the situation you faced exactly paralleled my own. Now that our oldest two are married, the youngest child (by 10 years) has had a harder time adjusting to the changes. I’ve made a concerted effort to be joyful in whatever situation we encountered as we juggled the schedules of 5 different families into our celebrations. Yet, I awoke on Tuesday and the first thought I had was “I hate the holidays!”. I had to struggle to lay down those emotions, take my thoughts captive and turn them to a new channel.
This year, the son and wife farthest from ‘home’ came and joined us for the family rounds at the grandparents on Thursday; they won’t be able to come at all for Christmas. So today, we are having an early birthday celebration for my husband and sorting Christmas decorations. It seems time for some of the special ornaments to make their way home with the grown children.
This is quite a departure for me since I never decorate until Dec 1st! Life is about adjustment and choosing to be joyful and satisfied as circumstances change. I’m OK with this — I really am walking in peace and joy!
We have an “ex” son-in-law and we have a Grandson together. It has certainly changed our holiday schedules. We celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas a week early for the last three years. This year I decided we would put our Christmas tree up early – when our Grandson and his Mom (our daughter) could be here. The tree is artificial so any time goes – it was really fun being able to decorate with our two daughters and grandson. – Flexibility is the key – putting those you love first – not “what should be”.
I am blessed to have understanding parents & in-laws. It worked for both of our families to alternate who we spent Thanksgiving & Christmas with on the actual day. This year is the first time it hasn’t worked according to our schedule, but everyone is working hard to make a time work to be together. I’m thankful for our wonderful families!
You are always a blessing to me. I agree with everything you said about the date not being important. I have grown children with babies and I am grateful anytime they choose to spend time with us. Thank you for your honesty- I read everything I find with your name on it and also send a copy to my niece. I am so grateful as my niece and I had very challenging childhoods, you helped us be grateful for who we became through it all. (My niece even found a place you were speaking near Minn. and went) because of reading your book “The Mom I Want to be” I was so proud! I give thanks for you in my morning prayer time.
Your devotional really hit home. This year is the year that my daughter and her family goes to her in laws for Thanksgiving. We alternate years. Also, my Navy son has his daughter in California with my brothers and their families. To give my mom a break, we sent her to Calif to spend Thanksgiving. My husband and I spent Thanksgiving lunch with my Dad who is in a nursinghome. Then we took my mother-in-law out to dinner (she doesn’t like going to the nursinghome for visits). It was very quiet; abit too quiet and a little emotional for me. We will see my son and granddaughter when they fly out to KS to take her home to her mommy and we will probably see my daughter and her family sometime in Dec (weather permitting). I guess being very involved with our church and working outside the home helps alot. Also, having a supportive husband who insisted that we decorate for Christmas helps too.
Thankyou for this lovely, gentle reminder, Suzy. I am so thankful that you have learnt this valuable lesson and are willing to pass it on to us. I pray that you, and all other readers, have a truly blessed and peaceful Thanksgiving and Christmas season. Let’s enjoy each moment!
I enjoyed this devotional for many reasons. One of them is that this year I will not be with my family over the holidays—we have been celebrating over Skype. I was always the stickler about having the holidays with everyone on the exact date, but this year I am the one breaking that rule and I have learned that it is not the day that matters at all. The joy of this time of year and the blessings that we have are there if we are willing to see them. Thank you for your wise words, Suzie!
Thank you for this!! I don’t think aspect of the holidays gets addressed enough – I was hungry to know that I wasn’t alone in feeling this way. Like many others have said, your experiences are nearly identical to my own. I am 31 yrs old and been married for nearly 10 years. We have a 2 year old daughter. My husband and I were the first to get married on both sides and the families are still adjusting all these years later. Having our daughter, unfortunately, only made things worse. I have a burning desire to make our own traditions, just the three of us, but still feel a tremendous pull of expectations from his side of the family. My own parents retired a few years ago, and are traveling in their RV and I haven’t seen them for 5 Christmases now. To say I have been not joyful these past several holidays is an understatement. Too much work trying to manage everyone else’s emotions. I will be saving this devo and reading it often this next month! Thank you so much.
This is exactly what I needed to hear. My world has changed dramatically in the last two years, and trying to have holidays as I remember them from the past is just not going to happen. I remarried two years ago to a wonderful man with two grown sons. Their mom dictates what day she is going to celebrate with them, so we never know when we’ll see them until a couple of weeks before the holiday. My older son and his wife, who live a 6-hr drive from us, took in a foster brother (3 yrs) and sister (5 yrs) this year and are adopting them – my first grandchildren! They always go to my daughter-in-law’s family for Christmas, so I can only see them at Thanksgiving (definitely not my preference!). My younger son, who lives just a few mins. from me, was married in January, and my first grandbaby is due Dec. 10. His wife’s parents live about an hr from them, and insist that all the holidays be at their house. I have been determined from the beginning that I would not be the demanding mom who caused my sons stress, so I almost never see my children on the holiday day. I especially miss having family on Christmas. God blessed us with a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration on Friday this year with all of our sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren. We’re working on making our own traditions, and your blog inspired me to remember that it’s not the specific day that matters, it’s being together any time you can. Merry Christmas!
Aimee R., I’m so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine how that would feel, or how it would affect the day you would normally celebrate. Today I pray that God fills that place in your heart with His joy, supernaturally.
Stephanie, your parents are showing you how to be intentional. So many times we stress about what someone else isn’t willing or can’t do, and fail to see how we can meet them halfway. You are a lucky, lucky woman and daughter. Maybe you should call your parents and let them know how amazing they are!
Oh Tracy, my heart hurts with you. But understand that you extended an invitation to both families and it’s not your burden to bear if one is offended. Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all opened our homes to others on Thanksgiving and Christmas? Shared our home, shared our blessings and food with others?
We have to separate what we are responsible for. . . and what we cannot change. You are not responsible for their feelings, and you’re not big enough to change how they reacted. But don’t underestimate the power of grace and prayer. Love them. Be true to what you want to do as a family (include others) and pray that God will soften their heart.
Joy, I’m so glad you come by. I am emailing you personally, but I want you to know I’m so glad you dropped in and shared your heart.
Holidays are quite tricky for my husband and I and our 2 little ones these days. My parents and my sister and her family are very flexible so we can always work together and find a time that works for everyone. My in-laws, however, are not so flexible. My mom- and dad-in-law are absolutely flexible (and wonderful parents-in-law I must add), but my brother-in-law and his wife ARE NOT! They are very lucky to have both sides of their family in close proximity and have jobs which give them all holidays and weekends off (unlike my husband and his sister and her husband), so they WILL visit both sides of their family on the same day and do not want celebrate a holiday on any other day than the holiday. They also dictate which meal we’re having, for example, if my sister-in-law’s family is having Thanksgiving lunch that year, then we have to have dinner, never mind how that works for everyone else. So we and my sister-in-law and her husband are usually either scrambling around like crazy trying to make the holiday gathering or feeling bummed about having to miss out. Sure wish we could all work together! It’s such a shame the holidays can’t be about family and gratefulness and of course Jesus rather than tradition only 🙁 Thank you so much for your Encouragement, and please pray I can share my feelings with gentleness and respect.
Diane, My anniversary is on Thanksgiving weekend. If I could go back I’d tell that young bride to choose a different date! My anniversary has been lost due to Thanksgiving for 32 years. But Richard and I realize that a day is not what makes us in love, or what signifies love. We can celebrate in December or on Valentines Day, or any time we want. It’s the same thing with your family. You are right, it’s complicated. So, create a time in early January or early December and make it as Christmasy as you wish. Celebrate Christ’s birth. Celebrate family. Make the turkey. Make it fun, with zero pressure. It can become a new tradition, and one that helps your family take the pressures off during Thanksgiving or Christmas, and yet look forward to a no pressure day/new holiday with you.