It was November 2013 and our daughter broke the news to her father and me that she would be spending Thanksgiving in Arkansas with her boyfriend’s family. I remember my husband looking at me and saying to her, “That is ok, your mom and I are going to Disney!” I recall saying to myself, “We are?” But I soon realized, that was just my husband’s way of coping with the fact that for the first time his baby girl would not be with us for the holiday. We really did go to Disney that year for Thanksgiving. It was the next best place to be when we knew our second child would be soon leaving the nest.
One day our babies are two and you are trying to get them to eat turkey at the Thanksgiving table. You blink and they are twenty-two and you’re trying to coordinate their calendars to get them to the Thanksgiving table. Sharing the holidays with our adult children can be stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Most of the stress and disappointment around the holidays can come from unmet expectations. My husband and I learned this really quickly the first year my son got married. Letting him go was also sharing him during the holidays. He now had a new family and would begin his own traditions.
A Thanksgiving tradition that started when my husband and I first got married was taking turns each year visiting family for the holiday. His family lived in Michigan, so one year we would travel to them and spend a Farver Thanksgiving. Then the next year we would spend Thanksgiving with my side of the family: the Colons. This worked really well for us and our parents didn’t feel left out. They could actually look years ahead and know which year would be their turn. This tradition has been passed on to our adult children. One year they spend with us and the next year they alternate and celebrate with their in-laws.
So, you may be thinking: What do you do the year your children go with their in-laws? Don’t you miss your kids and grandkids the year they aren’t with you? On our off-year, my husband and I will usually travel to family or go to Disney. And if our children don’t travel that year with their in-laws, we may be fortunate enough to still see them. And of course, we miss them. But we know they now have additional family members. Not only have they gained in-laws, but now they also have their own children. So, I have to remind myself, they have a family of their own. When I was their age, I wanted my parents to understand my new family dynamics and I have to extend that same understanding to my children.
Counting our Blessings
My family is more important than the holiday. Now don’t get me wrong, I love the holidays and I love any reason for a celebration. But now that our one family has turned into three, it requires flexibility on my part. The “way” we did it has changed. Sharing Thanksgiving and the holidays with my adult children means my expectations change. So, in 2013, we went to Disney, but in 2014, we were all together again and counting our blessings. Thanksgiving is the holiday we celebrate being grateful and I am always thankful for a reason to celebrate family! This year, it’s our turn again and I am so excited to host my family for dinner.
I would love to hear some of your traditions for sharing Thanksgiving and the holidays with your families! Whatever way you celebrate, I hope you have a Happy Thanksgiving!!!