My wife and I tried to do it. We tried to make everyone else happy. When we first got married we would celebrate with my wife’s family on Christmas Eve and then have a Church Christmas Eve program. Then we would have our own personal Christmas late at night before going to bed. Finally we would get up early and head to my parents on Christmas morning. It was two days of run and visit and then run and visit and then run and visit. We continued this routine even while our children were young. It was exhausting and not really that enjoyable.
As a young couple and as young parents we felt like we had to make everyone else happy. Our families would be disappointed if we didn’t come – after all, we were their favorite:-) In an effort to visit everyone we left little room for ourselves. Our holidays were a blessing and a curse all rolled into one.
Then something happened. One year Christmas fell on Sunday. What were we going to do? I needed to preach and be with my Church and we had no time for travel. With a heavy guilt ridden heart I told my family that we would not be coming home for Christmas. My wife then told her family. We braced ourselves for the blow back and everyone was very understanding. Finally, Christmas came and something happened that we had never experienced. We woke up a little later, opened gifts, we went to worship and then came home for a nice quiet meal as a family. Without much planning we had the best Christmas ever.
With one good year under our belts we informed our families that we would not be able to do get together the next year. Again, they were disappointed, but very understanding. We immediately started planning an exciting Christmas experience with our boys. Instead of giving toys we purchased a night at a hotel with a water park and set out on a Christmas adventure. Since that time we have tried to make our own special Christmas each year. And it has been a wonderful undertaking.
We have gone to water parks, eaten pizza, rented movies, slept in, enjoyed small gift items, and done anything we wanted to do. Yes, we still enjoy getting together with our family but we try to do that on days other than the holidays. We have made Christmas a time we celebrate the birth of Jesus and spend time together as a family. In the last 10 years I have had moments where it would have been nice to see my parents but I have felt no regrets over blazing our own holiday trail.
So let me ask you: What are your holidays like? Do you spend all of your time trying to make everyone else happy? Do you feel miserable because of an overloaded schedule? What would happen if you scrapped everything you are suppose to do and started doing what you want to do?
My advice to any young couple is to create an experience that brings you closer together with God, each other and with your children. Family means well, but the road that runs from your house also runs to your house. If they want to be a part of my experience they can come to me as easily as I can go to them. Don’t be afraid to blaze your own trail, in the end it will often lead to a much happier place. I know it did for us.