Please meet my family. Pictured here is the whole crew, with the exception of my son-in-law Jon, who had to work and couldn’t join us for our beach vacation this year. I have 3 grown children, one son and two daughters. They are all married and my daughters have blessed us with a total of 6 grandchildren. I haven’t officially looked into this, but I may hold the record for the most grandchildren born in the shortest amount of time. My girls took turns having babies and we became grandparents to six little ones in only 5 years! They are now 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 years old and the light of our life.
Way back when, when my kids were growing up, I pictured the holidays at this time in my life much differently than they have turned out to be. I love holidays and getting together with family, eating together and playing games. It didn’t really matter what we did, just hanging out and enjoying time spent together is what makes any holiday a great one. I thought that when my kids got married and had little ones, it just meant more family around the table and playing together at Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, etc. We would still celebrate the same as we always have, with the same family traditions, on the actual holiday, and all would be fabulous. Right !?!?
If you have married children, you are laughing hysterically right now because you know that nothing could be farther from the truth. Somehow I completely missed the fact that my children would have in-laws, and that these wonderful people, who were now in my children’s lives, would want to share their family traditions with them. It never dawned on me that I would even be asked to share my children on a holiday, let alone actually have to go through with it! Add to that the fact that my daughter got married in April and then my son in October of the same year, and you see that the time for sharing came fast and hard. This mama was not a happy camper.
I remember one of those early Thanksgivings, my husband and I went to Mimi’s Café for our Thanksgiving dinner. We were certainly not alone, as the restaurant was crowded, but we were not with family and it was awful. Seriously, probably the worst Thanksgiving I have ever had. My children’s in-laws only wanted the same thing that I did, so I couldn’t blame them or be mad at them. Ok, so I’ll be honest, it did take some serious prayer and a lot of Godly wisdom to finally come to the conclusion that they were not just evil people honing in on my perfect little holiday, but eventually I did get there. My children understood the problem but could only be in one place at one time and didn’t want to spend their holiday driving from one house to another eating all the food that was prepared at each house. So, something had to give before the holidays became something dreaded instead of a time we all looked forward to.
My kids would ask me what I wanted to do for the holidays as they were trying to please both sets of parents. As I thought about what was really important to me, I realized that the day we celebrated didn’t really matter. What mattered, was that the family was all together, spending time with one another and having fun. I don’t know about you, but there is something special in seeing all your kids in the same room with you. I love it!!
We now celebrate Thanksgiving in a variety of ways. We have had our Thanksgiving on Friday, which I didn’t like at first but have found that it can actually be a good thing to have a whole extra day to prepare, leaving more time to enjoy the family. We have also spent the holiday weekend with friends riding quads in the desert or camping in Julian enjoying the town’s famous apple pie. When we have a Christmas Eve without our own family, we invite our friends and neighbors, who are also alone for one reason or another, over for an evening of food and games. We have found that these are special times too and look forward to them almost as much as we do our times with the family.
Several years ago, we started an annual beach trip to Silverstrand Beach near Coronado, which has now become our own special family time. My daughter and 3 grandchildren come out from Texas for a week or two and we cram 4 adults, 6 children and 1 small dog into our 35’ 5th wheel trailer for a week of fun in the sun. It is more than a bit crazy with all the little ones, especially at mealtime, nap time, bath time, okay, maybe all the time. But we do have a lot of fun and the kids love playing in the sand, flying kites, skating boarding with Uncle Jason, and the early morning walks on the beach looking for seashells with their cousins. The family picture is from this past June outside the Mexican restaurant we always eat at when we are there. Then the following month, my husband I go back for another week, just the two us, no kids allowed for this trip, for some quality time of our own.
Even though the holidays are not quite like I imagined they would be, we have learned to adapt and make them just as special and a wonderful time of family fun that we all look forward to.
What have been your family traditions and how have they changed as your family has grown up and gotten bigger? Please share your secrets to sharing your kids with the in-laws in the comment section below.