Skipping the Holiday Shuffle

By on December 26, 2012

By Deb DeArmond –

Originally published in WHOA Magazine

“You load up the kids,” I called to my husband. “Take an umbrella, it’s raining, and be careful, the baby’s asleep. I’ll figure out what food we need to pack up to take to my mom’s tomorrow morning. And, oh! Ask your mom if we can take the kid’s stockings off the mantle to put up at our house tonight.”

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Those were the days of doing the holiday shuffle. Christmas Eve at his folks. Christmas morning at my parents. We often had two Thanksgivings, complete with turkey twice in one day. It was tough and exhausting. The running back and forth required a lot of coordination and I felt more like an air traffic controller than a happy holiday mom.

We enjoyed spending time with both families, and loved many of the unique observances in both homes. But we were ready to establish some of our own holiday traditions as a family. My first attempt to bring everyone together in our home was less than successful. We felt like boat-rockers and some elected not to come. It was tense for those that did. Some of the joy and true meaning of the season got lost in the shuffle.

As a mother of grown children, I was determined to do it differently. Our three sons married wonderful young women who have families who enjoy them at the holidays, just as we do. How to make this work for her family, our family and the couple themselves is challenging but possible.

The scripture reminds us to “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another” Romans 12:10 (NKJV).

In other words, this is not Burger King. You can’t always have it your way.

Here are a few tips that may work for you.

  • Call a family meeting to discuss the holidays. We talk each year about how to manage holiday time with our adult children and their spouses. We don’t assume they will always be with us. It’s not a reasonable expectation. They should be part of the conversation and we’ve created great solutions together.
  • Set alternate celebration times. We have celebrated either before or after the holidays to allow them time with their friends, her family, or just to mark the occasion on their own. We’ve celebrated Christmas on the 18th when our kids travelled for the holidays and it was just as wonderful. We rented a snowy cabin December 26th through the 30th.  Disney is Christmassy the day after Thanksgiving.
  • Don’t guilt them into choosing you.  I remember a friend who dealt with the “well this is probably your grandma’s last Christmas, you know” line each year. Resist the urge.
  • Don’t compete with the in-laws. Lavish trips or extravagant celebrations may be attractive, but it’s not fair. And it won’t feel good to know that things were the draw, not you.

Remember it’s about family and gratitude and celebrating our life in Christ. And that shouldn’t require an air-traffic controller!

Christ follower. Writer and speaker. Optimistically mid-life, experienced – not necessarily “mature”. Young enough to discover, explore, teach, serve, mentor, and old enough to know how to do it well! Deb serves as a writer for the online magazine Destiny in Bloom and she is Co-Founder of, a website dedicated to helping women over 50 find their purpose in Christ. Her latest print project is a book about the relationships between mothers and the girls who marry their sons, which will be published in 2013.
 Read more from Deb at her websites:    and


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Skipping the Holiday Shuffle