Mark: Fall is in the air and that means the major holidays of Thanksgiving and Christmas are around the corner. Have you talked with your spouse about your plans for the holidays?
Jill: It may seem too early to do that, but we’re not talking as much about logistics as we are talking about desires and how you can accomplish those desires. Sure, there will be extended family expectations, but what do BOTH OF YOU want your holidays to look like? The key to experiencing happy holidays is proactive communication.
Mark: Too often we get sucked into the holiday chaos and it feels something like losing your footing at the top of a tall, winding water slide. Suddenly you’re tossed and turned in all kinds of directions just trying to keep your head above water.
Jill: Challenges during the holidays most often stem from our own unspoken or unrealistic expectations. They also come from extended family expectations and traditions. It’s not easy to buck tradition, but sometimes it’s important for our “new” family. It’s important the two of us to sit down and sort through what we want as a couple for our family.
Mark: When Jill and I did that we determined that we wanted our kids to wake up in their own beds on Christmas morning. We also determined we didn’t want to travel out of town on Christmas day. In the beginning this was hard, especially for Jill because she was the oldest child and the only one married, with kids, and living out of town. This meant she was missing her family’s Christmas traditions at the same time she and I were building our own holiday traditions. There was definitely a mix of emotions!
Jill: One of the hardest parts of marriage to live out is the “leaving and cleaving” (Genesis 2:24). If you read Genesis 2:24, you’ll note that it doesn’t say “…a man shall leave his mother and father and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh except at the holidays.”
Mark: With this in mind, here are some questions to talk through together to determine how to proactively plan for the holidays.
What is your favorite part of ____________________ (insert holiday) ?
If there was one thing we didn’t do at _______________, what would it be for you?
Are you respected and treated well at my family’s home? If not, should we decide now to limit our time there for the holidays? What would that look like practically?
Is the extended family environment one we’re comfortable having our children in for an extended period of time? If not, what adjustments do we need to make?
What do we want Thanksgiving to look like for our family?
What do we want Christmas to look like for our family?
How will we be involved in extended family celebrations? How will we not be involved in extended family celebrations?
Who do we need to have conversations with now so they can understand the changes we’re choosing to make this year?
Where do you and I need to compromise or “meet in the middle?”
Is there any way we’d like to more intentionally focus on faith with either of these holidays?
Are we ready to stand firm with our arms linked as one and not be manipulated or influenced by those who might not understand our choices?
Jill: These aren’t always easy conversations but they’re important ones to have because they are the first steps to celebrating the holidays the way you desire!