I can’t believe it, it seems like Christmas was yesterday. Yet we are less than one hundred days from Christmas, 96 to be exact. I love the holidays, and am so excited for them to come. Last year, B and I spent the holidays alone. It was the first time we have ever been able to create our own traditions and celebrate the way we wanted. It was an amazing experience for us both.
Family traditions are so important. Traditions root us in our past and tie us to our family. They define who we are and help us remember our culture. But all too often, I have seen small family units miss the opportunity to create their own traditions because of the traditions of the family at large.
Please don’t mistake what I am saying, large family traditions are very important. I remember the first holiday we spent away from our large family when I was a child. I missed my family and spent the day being lonely. My parents missed the opportunity to create new traditions. We went to church, opened presents, and then sat until dinner. As an only child, I cannot tell you how boring and lonely I found the holidays.
Once I became a parent, I worked hard to eliminate the boredom. I would plan games and activities to fill the day. B and I have so many memories of the holidays. Yet, as she got older, our holidays became consumed with the wants and needs of the family at large.
Last year, we enjoyed planning our holiday traditions more than we enjoyed the days. For the first time, we were on our time schedule, planning all the activities and details, and making it a point to include our furry friends. Needless to say, the days were such a hit, we have already started making plans for this year.
The holidays are a time of balance, between family, work, and family units. Take it from me, you cannot please everyone, and if you try all you will do is exhaust yourself. Sadly, there are holidays with B I don’t remember because of exhaustion. We would spend days prepping and decorating multiple houses, only to spend the actual holidays with my grandparents and have no time at our own home. I remember countless salads, uncomfortable outfits, and little to no time with B.
Finding a balance is not easy. It requires boundaries and the courage to stick to your plan no matter the guilt your family places on you. If going to every large family gathering is just not your thing, or you would rather go later, allowing for time to celebrate with your family, then do it.
Now is the time to have the conversation with your immediate family unit. As a group, decide what you want to do, how you want to celebrate, what you will attend, and what your budget will be. Don’t share these plans with your extended family until closer to the holidays. Make your family unit the priority. Once your extended family begins talking about plans, share your plans in a way that lets everyone know your plans are set. Remember, it is not selfish to put your family unit first. Focus on making these holidays the best ever.
Sara Orellana lives in Oklahoma City and writes a weekly column for The Lawton Constitution.