I grew up in a small family of four with no extended family nearby. Most years the holidays were just the four of us and it was nice. Occasionally there would be an aunt or uncle and their family or a grandparent who would come into town for the holidays, but I always loved our quiet holidays at home with just each other.
When I got married, I married a man who was part of a family of six with most of my father-in-law’s family living within an hour of us in any direction for the first three years of our marriage. Holidays were suddenly very different. Thanksgiving went from a quiet affair of four to a large gathering of 30-40 guests. I quickly learned that I would need to work on my boundaries and what I would and would not be okay with during one of the most stressful, but somehow also the most peaceful(?) times of the year. Once I had my daughter, I was glad I had learned how to set those boundaries. Here are some that have helped me survive large holidays and hopefully they’ll help you too:
It’s okay to say no.
It’s okay to ask for help.
No one is entitled to your children.
No one is entitled to your presence.
These four things might seem like no-brainers, but for me, they took a lot of work to accept and learn. It all boils down to the fact that you don’t owe anyone anything and while that might sound a little bit harsh around a season that is meant for love and giving, it’s also important that we all enjoy the season and we all take care of ourselves physically and mentally. Whatever you celebrate, happy holidays to all. Take care of yourself.