Many of our fondest holiday memories hinge on moments spent with—or created by—our parents when we were young. But now that the shoe is on the other foot, and we’re the ones working overtime to create special memories for our own kids, it’s easy for our moms, dads and in-laws to get pushed to the side.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! Some of the best holiday celebrations involve bringing together multiple generations for sharing and fun. Here are some things you can think about to make sure you’re honoring your parents even during a hectic season…
1. It doesn’t have to be exactly the same, it just has to be. In other words, the way you celebrate with your parents and in-laws doesn’t have to look exactly as it did when you were 10. For instance, if you always spent Christmas Eve with your parents, but find that difficult with small children who need to get to bed, consider inviting them over to enjoy breakfast or brunch on Christmas Day to exchange gifts and see what Santa brought the children. Or perhaps your special time together becomes an early dinner and church services on Christmas Eve.
2. Pitch in. As much as your mom or mother-in-law may like to host the holiday gathering, the task grows, and grows, with the family. Offer to cook a couple of dishes or desserts to help out, and don’t forget to help with the dishes (no one likes doing dishes).
3. Get on a schedule. Some families deal with the added challenge of out-of-town relatives and long-distance travel. Again, flexibility can solve a number of problems. Perhaps you can work out a rotating schedule wherein you celebrate with one side of the family for Thanksgiving, and the other side for Christmas. Some families even schedule a “faux Christmas” a few days before or after Christmas Day to celebrate together and accommodate travel schedules. If there’s a fire roaring, presents under the tree and a turkey in the oven, it won’t matter what the calendar says!
4. Be considerate of everyone. If your mother-in-law lives to have all of her children and grandchildren under one roof at the same time, do what you can, within reason, to make that happen. You might even find it easier to get on the phone with your sisters-in-law to compare schedules and figure out when you could all get together, and suggest that time to your in-laws, sparing them the mind-boggling logistical puzzle.
5. Remember their age. As your parents and in-laws age, their needs at the holidays may change. When they’re no longer able to host gatherings in their own home, take over the hosting responsibilities. If they’ve moved to a retirement facility or nursing home, bring them to your home for the family get-together, and if they’re not able to travel, take a smaller celebration to them. Go decorate for them (a little table-top tree with twinkle lights can brighten a room dramatically!) to help them get in the spirit.
Again, it won’t always look the same, but making an effort to show love to your parents—especially during the Christmas season will bless you as much as them. What’s more: your kids are watching, and one day it will be them making these decisions about finding time for you. Set a good example!
End your day: Talking with your child…
How can we make grandpa and grandma feel really special this Christmas?