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Sharing Our Adult Children This Christmas

Woo Wee! Christmas is in less than two weeks y’all! I laugh at myself every year when I say, “Gosh, Christmas is already here, time goes by way too fast, it just snuck up on me.” You too? Thought so. Others tell me, and God reminds me too, “Um, Tam, Christmas has been on the same day every year, in like forever.” Christmas doesn’t get on the ‘Fourth-Thursday-of-the-Month’ train like Thanksgiving. In case you didn’t know, Christmas is on December 25 every year. If this is the first you’re hearing of it, there’s still time! Get yo’ self to Target already!

I’ve been running through the Christmas memories in my mind of family and friends, especially memories with my kids. I’ve been thinking of certain photos of them by the tree in their jammies, the photos with Santa when there was always a screaming toddler, because…4 children, or the one with our Molly-girl dog. Man, how did these kids of mine get to be adults already? The hubs and I have four adult children: our boys, Taylor (27) and Seth (25), and our girls, Ashton (21, almost 22, waaahhh!) and Mikayla (20). Three of these babies still live at home. The oldest has flown the coup. Sayonara. Wait! Come back! Just kidding. Not kidding.

The last few years have especially come to mind because we have had some significant others joining us for the festivities. And with these Christmas festivities, the hubs and I, along with the rest of the family, have had to share our family members with the significant other’s family. No! They’re Mine! Our younger boy had a girlfriend first and those few years were a little tough. We missed our Seth-a-Roo at some holidays. These two were just dating; however, there was no conversation or plan for the holiday, it was just what she said is what was to be done. I saw that my son was torn, wanting to make both his girlfriend and his parents happy. I could just see the stress in his eyes. Well, they have been broken up for a while now. So, there’s that.

Now my precious, oldest baby boy has a wonderful girlfriend. They’ve been together a while now and live together at the moment. Now, this is a step up from “just dating,” so I am considerate of her and her family. What I learned from years ago is to have a plan for Christmas early enough to avoid any stress or hurt. You know, the “Who’s going where and when” questions, that sort of thing. The convo was easy-peasy. Both families are here in town so that helps great deal. That’s how me and the hubs roll. We go with the flow.

I got to thinking about family dynamics and how they can be so unique during the holidays. Unique. You may be thinking of some other choice words, but we’ll use this one for now. For as long as I can remember, we have celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve with my side of the family and then we’d spend Christmas Day or evening with the hubs’ family. There have been blended families and custody plans to tend with over the years. We’ve celebrated Christmas the weekend before Christmas or maybe even New Year’s Weekend. There have been times when we couldn’t meet at all, which is totally fine.

As far as I know, there hasn’t been a rule book to say that Christmas has to be celebrated on exactly December 24 or 25. Did I miss that at Mom School? Was it written in small print on our Marriage License? Christmas, I thought, was a time to get together, to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus. I’ve been reading up on a few things and it appears that some scholars have gone back and forth on the day of Jesus’ actual birthday. Maybe it wasn’t even in December and we’ve had it wrong all these year. Check it out, let me know what you find out.

So, as the hamster in my mind has been running on the wheel, and with the new happenings of the wonderful girlfriend of my adult son, I thought I’d share some things that may make things a bit simpler for you and your adult children, if you haven’t made a plan yet.

1. Learn.

Take time to learn about your adult children’s girlfriend/boyfriend/husband/ wife’s family. Ask about their traditions and things they look forward to. See if there are younger kids who are looking forward to celebrating Santa Claus. In this case, my son’s girlfriend has a 7 year old brother. Of course, he is going to get up early and wake everybody up to see what the big guy in red and his reindeer brought him. So, I thought about the rest of us and that we usually just get up naturally, often sleeping in. I suggested my son spend Christmas morning with her family and then come over afterward. Ain’t no thang.

2. Encourage.

Encourage your adult children to experience their significant other’s traditions and cultures. I don’t want my children thinking that the way we may do things has to be the only way to do things. I want them to experience it all. I encourage them to store new memories in the memory bank of their sweet hearts. My prayer is that once they get married and have children, they would maybe take a little bit of both family’s traditions and combine them with their own new family traditions.

3. Be Flexible.

After learning about your adult children’s desire for the holidays, give them grace and be flexible. If the only time to get together is in the middle of January, go with it. So you leave the Christmas tree up a little longer for the grandchildren (when they finally come). We don’t own our children. We don’t run their calendar. Once our children became adults, they were handed over to God’s hands. Trust God that the plans will work out. If somehow it doesn’t look like you’ll get to hug their necks this Christmas, God created a fabulous tool for us! Facebook Live! FaceTime! Skype! There’s a plethora of resources we can use to see their smiley faces and to blow them kisses via the phone screen. If you live out of town, schedule every other Christmas, so your kids have more flexibility with the holidays.

4. Enjoy.

In those times, and there will be, when you don’t get to see your adult
children for the holidays, get out and do something fun! Take the time for
yourself. Enjoy a movie that you’ve been dying to see. There’s something
about the movie theater on Christmas Day, it gives off such a lovely,
festive vibe. Another option, go to Redbox and rent some movies.
Grab some popcorn and your favorite candy and have a movie marathon in
your pajamas. Have Mac n Cheese on a TV tray! You don’t even have to
set the table!

5. Give Grace.

Just like I shared earlier about my younger son and his tug-of-war issue
with trying to spend a holiday with his girlfriend and her family and also
wanting to spend time with us. Deep down, yes, I would have loved to have
him with us, and I pray that I didn’t let that show because I wouldn’t have
wanted to stress him out even more. Give your family grace when it feels
like it just not going to happen this year. It’s not about us anyway. I know I
had to get over being so selfish. I just want my kids to be happy and I am
thankful that they can celebrate anywhere. Geography has nothing to do
with it.

6. Have No Expectations.

Just because my family has always gotten together on Christmas Eve
doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. I can’t expect it to always happen.
Things may, or will, change once my adult children get married and start
families of their own. I also can’t expect the traditions I’m accustomed to,
to be the only ones we observe. I’d love my children to share their traditions
with us. When we have an idea in our head of how a gathering will go, we
set ourselves up for disappointment when things don’t go as planned.
Have an open heart and open mind this holiday season. Be open to seeing
new aspects of joy through your adult children’s lives. Having a heart of
gratitude, open to what the Lord can do, trumps a heart of expectation
every time.

If you’re an adult child reading this, keep these things in mind as well when making plans with your family. Try not to let too much time go by without seeing your family. Make an attempt to see your parents and extended family. Sometimes you may have to say “No” or “Not this year” to your significant other because it has just been too much time away from your family. This is where prayer, conversation, and consideration comes into the picture. Talking about plans early (with your parents and your significant other), giving each other grace, being flexible, and having no expectations can do wonders.

I pray this helps you this season or opens your mind for seasons to come. Pick up the phone. Write that email or text. Get in contact with your adult babies and start making a plan. Enjoy each other this Christmas at the dinner table on Christmas Day, the pizza joint in mid-January, or on FaceTime. Celebrate! It really is central to life.

Hugging you so tight,

Tammy