Last year, I wrote about changing holiday traditions saying change isn’t always a bad thing. I still believe that. But one of our new traditions has changed this year. For the better.
We’ve simply had too much togetherness.
The previous tradition
What started out as trading holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas), with Tim’s ex-wife and attending these events at each others’ homes, has mushroomed into way more together time than I care to have.
I expected we’d be together for the grandkids’ birthdays, which is fine. Family from their father’s side is also there. That means it’s a larger group, providing more of a buffer from the ex-wife. Plus, it’s at their house and not one of ours.
But this past year, we were together for the grandkids’ birthdays (February and June), Tim’s son’s birthday (who was sick and wasn’t even there – April), Tim’s daughter’s and son-in-law’s birthdays (July), and an ISU football game (November).
The kicker for me was when we were invited to Tim’s ex-wife’s 60th birthday party in September. It was just “family”, otherwise I wouldn’t have gone. It always seems to be “about the grandkids”. We have to go so we can have more time with the grandkids. Don’t get me wrong; I’ll take any opportunity we get to spend time with them. But this isn’t quality time with them so what’s the point?
It was uncomfortable and I’m sure some members of her family wondered why in the world we were there. The grandkids were running around the whole time so the amount of time with them was minimal.
After the birthday party, I said enough was enough. I would have skipped the football game in November if I could have, but I did want to go and besides, I’m cheap and couldn’t stand the thought of losing $100 per ticket. This used to be our time with them, until last year when it became about all of us.
Our ongoing tradition
So, we told Tim’s daughter we would be changing things up from now on and we’d have separate holiday celebrations. That was the best decision ever!!!
They stayed with us the football weekend and we celebrated Thanksgiving on that Sunday. I think the best part was, they came Friday night and even though we were gone all day Saturday (but still together), it felt like we had so much more time with them.
I felt the atmosphere was much more relaxed. I think we had convinced ourselves we were doing fine with these joint holidays, not realizing we were all a little on edge with everyone together. I had a wonderful time and got to spend real time with Brady and Carly.
Carly is at that age when she’s interested in so much. She kept asking me “did you make this?”, “did you make that?”. She wanted to help me make the dessert and parts of the meal. She grabbed the footstool out of the pantry (she remembered it was there) so she could stand at the counter to see and help. I’d like to think she learned something.
Tim and I have talked about all the times we spent with our grandparents when we were kids and how wonderful the memories are. I told him I want Brady and Carly to have those kinds of memories about spending time with us. And you just don’t get that when you’re always competing with another set of grandparents.
Next year is still undecided
We haven’t figured out what we’ll do next year. No, I’m not reconsidering. It’s just that we’re trying to keep their driving to a minimum. It doesn’t make sense for them to come for two weekends for Thanksgiving and two weekends for Christmas. Plus, we know from past experience that going to both places over a weekend just doesn’t work very well.
We celebrated Christmas this year with them on December 8. We had planned to go to their house, saving them a trip. And then when the football game in Indy came up on the 7th, it worked out perfectly that we could stop at their place on Sunday as part of our trip home.
This was also a wonderful time. Tim’s daughter and son-in-law made a great meal, we all sat down at their dining room table to eat, and we opened presents without a lot of chaos. I suppose some of that is because the grandkids are getting older, but I also think it was because they could focus on our gifts and be less distracted. Everyone took turns so we could all see each others’ presents.
We’ve talked about combining Thanksgiving and Christmas and having them come here the first weekend in December. We’ve even discussed having the upstairs decorated for Thanksgiving and the downstairs for Christmas, so it would feel like both holidays.
I’d even be happy if part of our new tradition was going to their house for one of the holidays each year, as long as they didn’t view it as too much work. Tim will be retired by the holidays next year, so we’ll have much more flexibility when it comes to travel.
In the end, it doesn’t really matter what we do and when, as long as we’re together with the people we care about. That’s the kind of togetherness I love. 💕