Q. I’m upset about our son and daughter-in-law changing Christmas plans. They’re spending several days, including Christmas, with her family because her brother is coming home from out of state. In prior years they have split Christmas day between their two families since we live only a few hours apart. I’m having a hard time accepting their plans. How can I handle my hurt without letting it interfere with my husband and I having a good time when they do celebrate with us on the 28th?
A. When adult children marry and begin lives apart from parents, changing Christmas plans is the norm. Many families struggle with these changes. We want the original family unit to be together for the special Christmas excitement and celebration. But young married couples have two families. Often they feel torn and confused about how to balance their desire to be with both families. They may spend part of each Christmas day with each family and part on the road between families. This can be a burden for them. Do they eat two Christmas dinners - one at each home so no one will be upset? Do they rush through one celebration so they won’t be late for the next one?
Also, as young adults have children, they may want to celebrate at home with their own children. There are many reasons for this but the main one is the difficulty of traveling with young children, the car crammed with gifts. Young families also need to start their own family traditions at home such as hanging up stockings and going to Christmas Eve services in their own church. The holiday scheduling is further complicated when adult brothers and sisters are involved and wanting to celebrate together yet also wanting to visit their in-law’s families.
I hope this helps you understand that you are not the only one suffering from adult children changing Christmas plans. Though it may appear that you have been given the short end of the celebration plans there may be some benefits to this. For example, your son and daughter-in-law may be more relaxed when they visit you because of the more leisurely pace this arrangement affords.
The following will also help you accept this plan:
1. Write out your feelings about the changing Christmas plans. Express your disappointment, hurt and anger. This will help you get over your disappointment and be ready to enjoy the celebration. Write for twenty minutes without censoring. If you are still troubled the next day, repeat this again for another day or two.
2. Mend fences with your son and daughter-in-law if they know of your unhappiness. This can be done in a short phone call, a brief note or an email. Do this now.
3. Find a way to enjoy Christmas day without them. Invite friends or neighbors who are alone to have Christmas dinner with you. Or volunteer to help at a hospital or nursing home on Christmas Day, allowing employees to be with their families. Or relax and have a special meal and open a few gifts with your husband.
4. Focus on the blessings and meaning of Christmas. Participate in Sunday church services and a Christmas Eve worship celebration. Many joyful celebrations of Christmas are also shown on TV on Christmas Eve and on Christmas day. Think about the true meaning of Christmas - God came down to earth as a baby. He came to show us he is personal and he is love. Read accounts in Matthew 1:18-24, Luke 2:1-10, Matthew 2:1-12 in this order.
I hope these ideas will help you have a joyful, loving and meaningful Christmas.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life and the life was the Light of men.” John 1:1-4
Christmas blessings, Dottie