Last year I put up our 12-foot Christmas tree on the 1st of November and then awaited the oohs and ahs from my family. To my chagrin, my teenage grandsons, who I thought would be full of confetti praise, were not happy. And since we live in the same house, when it’s possible, we try to do what works for all. The boys thought the early appearance of Christmas was pushing Thanksgiving to the curb, like those annoying holiday commercials that pop up in August. However, I thought because it’s tons of effort to get the tree up and decorated we could revel in its beauty for an extra month.
My surprise for our household fizzled. Sure I could still enjoy it, and I did, but quite honestly half my joy in decorating is in their delight.
This year with only a few days until Thanksgiving there’s not a decoration to be seen on our premise. Honey, Nana learns fast. And today my son and his family left on a week-long cruise, which means, I can decorate to my heart’s content, while they are a-float on the boat.
I’m grateful my boys see Thanksgiving as worthy of its own day and that Christmas needs to be protected from a sense of commercialism. (Of course, the only thing I was promoting was an integration of two joyous holidays. Sigh. But it is my tendency to overdo. I own that.)
A New Thanksgiving Tradition
Quite honestly boundaries was a concept that alluded me for years, until I was an adult, and even then I struggled to put them into my life and to recognize and respect them in the lives of others.
My earlier statement about I learn fast, didn’t apply to boundaries. But today I’m so good at calling personal fouls I could work for the NFL with a whistle and a flag, announcing offsides, face masks, and unnecessary roughing. But beware, we don’t want our boundaries to become control for control’s sake, so don’t carry a big stick. If you need one you should change your guest list or your heart (Jesus will help, he did me).
I say all that to suggest boundaries are the most valuable decor
you can add to make holiday time a holy time. They are about sanity, respect, guidelines, and thoughtfulness. If Aunt Betty doesn’t want a helping of your famous mashed potato pie, don’t take it personally, and don’t make her refusal the table discussion. If someone waves off dessert, don’t insist. If guests historically stay too long, but you enjoy their company and want them included, set a timeframe on your gathering ahead of time. Then they can decide if they want to join you.
If you are always left depleted of your joy from taking on too much, You Are in Charge of You.
Do things differently. Simplify and ask for help. Different can be a lovely new tradition. Besides those around us may need an example of how boundaries can be lovingly and surely set in place.
Thank you for our many blessings. May we be generous toward others as we realize how bounteous you have been toward us. Teach us true hospitality and may we be certain, but not harsh, and merciful, but not indulgent. May we give out of love and not with return expectations. And protect those of us, from ourselves, who want everything perfect at the cost of conviviality and meaningful conversations. Also, those of us who have control issues, help us to grow in humility and trust in you.
We realize life is a journey of learning experiences. May you find us to be attentive, studious and joyous students eager to receive from your divine hand of love.