Once again, the holidays are upon us. Thanksgiving has come and gone and Christmas is just around the corner. There are quite a few sources for those looking to figure out some boundaries for the holidays. (“Boundaries for the Holidays ” by Cloud and Townsend being one I have looked at recently.) It’s a good thing to read and refresh ourselves on some of those key elements. As a daughter, wife, mother of four adult children and grandmother to 8 of the most beautiful grandchildren ever (😉😁), a people pleaser, and a perfectionist at heart, here are three things I am working on this year as I step into the December hubbub.
Let go of the “normal” myth.
How many times have I heard someone exclaim, “I just wish my family could be “normal,” and we could have a “normal” holiday? So, what is “normal?” Could you define that for me? Is the old Norman Rockwell picture of the happy family sitting down at the table overflowing with food “normal?” Everyone is smiling and happy. To be honest, I’m not sure “normal” exists! Every family has its dynamics. Each person is unique. Personalities can mesh or clash…especially within families! How often I have used those very words, but all the tension, chaos, laughter and joy that our family experiences are “normal” to me. I’m working hard to realize that we are who we are as a family…normal or not. And I’m just glad I get to spend time with these people who might get upset and irritated with my inability to be “normal.”
Make the choice to be unoffendable.
I recently read this book – Unoffendable: How Just One Change Can Make All of Life Better by Brandt Hansen. I loved what he had to say in this book. Many of his stories resonated with me. I realized that it is too easy for me to get offended. I am a people pleaser after all and absolutely hate it when someone is not happy with me. It is so easy for me to be offended and defensive over something I feel strongly about. A couple of key phrases he used in the book have stuck with me. “Serving others has to involve deciding not to be offended.” And “choosing to be unoffendable out of love for others is ministry.”
A passage from the Bible that relates to this attitude is Psalms 37:8 – Refrain from anger and give up your rage; do not be agitated – it can only bring harm.” As Hansen states, “being offended is a tiring business. Letting things go gives you energy.” So, this season, I am going to try to serve willingly by not being offended and let go so I can have more energy. (Check with me in the New Year to see how I do with that – or better yet, ask one of my family members.)
Let go of the idea of a “perfect” holiday.
As much as I can, I am trying to relax and enjoy the holidays rather than constantly stressing. I have to keep reminding myself every day! Holidays are days like any other. Crazy things can happen on holidays as easily as they can on other days. One year, my dad had heart issues just before Thanksgiving. My mother, my siblings and I shared Thanksgiving dinner in the hospital cafeteria grateful for doctors, nurses and the cafeteria workers caring for all of us through that time. The very next year, after my mother’s stroke, we ate Thanksgiving dinner at the rehab facility with my mother. We felt extremely grateful that we were still able to eat with her. We have all experienced that first holiday after the passing of someone dear to us.
Those times certainly don’t feel “perfect,” but we can take the time to remember the wonderful way that person blessed our lives and reflect on how we miss them. Tears don’t feel “perfect,” but at times they can bring a simple sweetness during a shared time of sorrow. Perfection is not ever completely possible, so we need to let that idea go. Instead we can challenge ourselves to stop, take a deep breath, be willing to laugh at the imperfections and just enjoy the time together if at all possible.
These are three things I am attempting to work on in my holiday anticipation this year. My desire is that gratitude will be my overarching attitude throughout the holiday season. As Brandt Hansen states, “Gratitude and anger can’t coexist – it’s one or the other. One drains the very life from you. The other fills your life with wonder. Choose wisely.”
Family & Friends Coordinator
In 2005, Jill and her husband Steve began attending WGA’s support group when one of their adult children disclosed their same-sex relationship. They began participating in the Friends and Family group and over time joined the leadership team. Steve and Jill have been married for 38 years; have 4 adult children, and 8 grandchildren.
Jill joined the leadership team in 2007 and started serving as a volunteer staff for the Friends and Family group in 2010. In 2010, she started organizing the semi-annual gathering of Friends and Family activities and other activities such as the 25-year WGA anniversary celebration.
Jill has a BS in Home Economics Education from CSU. She was a licensed teacher for many years. Jill enjoys planning and organizing events, meeting with individuals, and providing hospitality. In 2013, she joined the staff to coordinate the Friends and Family ministry. She is active in leading small groups, discipleship counseling and coordinating the monthly newcomer breakfast.
Make a Difference in Someone's Life
If you enjoy reading WGA’s blogs and would like to show your support, please consider making a donation. Where Grace Abounds is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The majority of services, including support groups and discipleship counseling, are provided free of charge. Your financial gifts help to cover the costs associated with offering a free program to those who seek WGA’s services.