Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Guest Post, Julie: Home for the Holidays

Julie sent us this guest post during the holiday season. Unfortunately, I was in full-out wedding mode, and Lindsey and Miri were crazy busy with holiday plans of their own, and we didn't get to it until now. However, it's such a lovely post that we can't very well wait until next year to post it, and I can certainly relate as I look forward to next Christmas with my new in-laws. Enjoy, and sorry for the delay, Julie! 

I want to go home every holiday. I want to be in my childhood home, with my parents, and my siblings, and I want the same traditional food with the same decorations and the same activities. It is comfortable. It is warm. It feels like love.

I cannot go “home” anymore every holiday. My husband and I have this every other year swap. This year we are spending Christmas with the husband’s family. He loves them. It is his traditions and his food and his siblings.

If you can believe it, our first married Christmas with his family my heart was so empty longing for home, that we packed up the very next day and drove 750 miles so I could feel the warmth I cherished so much. I still have to restrain myself from doing this every year. I cannot. We have 4 kids, 3 fish, and a cat, with new traditions to uphold.

I want to share some of my tricks of how to deal with the longing for “home” holiday syndrome. Hopefully it will help find a way to cope with lone-lies around the holidays.

After 10 years of marriage I now know what to expect. I know where the holes in the holiday are that make me feel sad or lonely. So I anticipate and take defenses against these holes.

Embrace the city you are in. Adopt a local food bank or nursing home. Round up some friends to sing carols in your neighborhood. Visit the festivities the city provides. I now look forward to visiting the Christmas lights downtown and shoveling the snow.

Lower your expectations. Set too high and you are bound to be let down. Set them reasonably and they are sure to be surpassed. Don’t expect a stocking filled to the brim or the conversation to be centered on you. Mold yourself into their family and you are sure to become a cherished member.

In my family I am an important piece of the puzzle. I feel valued and loved always in their presence. I still struggle with not having this every year. I know my husband’s family is not trying to hurt me with their actions or lack thereof. Love is shown in other ways. I look for the ways they show their love for me and try to make sure I show them how much I value them in my life also.

Most importantly is not looking inward, but turning outward. This holiday is important to others. It means a whole lot to my husband’s family that we are here. I need to make my best effort to participate in their traditions without wishing they were different. I already can feel my heart becoming closer to them as I put away my selfish feelings and make this their traditional Christmas.

It is so easy to get caught up in a serious case of selfishness, self pity, envy, and even anger in the holiday season. Remembering the reason for the season puts things in perspective. And you will never be a lovelier you.

1 comment:

Miri said...

This is a great post, Julie. I think most of us go through something like that once we get married and start having to split holidays with in-laws. Through a series of coincidences, even though Mike and I have been together for four years now, I've only spent one Christmas away from my family, and it was hard.

One thing that made it easier for me was finding a way to incorporate a few of my favorite traditions to Mike's. I really only have one that I just couldn't bear to skip, and that's the Christmas stories that my family always listens to on Christmas Eve. My dad grew up listening to these stories (The Littlest Angel, narrated by Loretta Young, and Lullaby of Christmas, narrated by Gregory Peck), and we've listened to them every year that I've been alive. So when we were in Utah, I found recordings of these stories, and Mike and I went and sat next to the Christmas tree and listened to them after everyone else had gone to bed. It wasn't the same, since my siblings and I used to always grab blankets and pillows and lie around on the floor together--but it was still wonderful and helped me feel better. (I also thought about inviting his family to listen with us, but it was pretty late by the time we got the recordings.) So if there's a way you can combine some of your traditions even when you're not with your family, that can really help make it easier.