Oops! Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house, not a creature was stirring!
(How NOT to drive your kids away at the holidays!)
by Denise Mira
It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas, indeed, but smoldering beneath the festive twinkle lights, there seems to be a pervasive sense of unhappiness associated with family holiday gatherings. Do You Hear What I Hear? Scores of adult kids don’t want to go home for the holidays. Is Christmas Without YOU, your adult child’s wish this year? Sadly, this is a common circumstance, and far too many parents are none the wiser.
As a recently inducted ‘empty nester’ with five grown sons, three daughters-in-law, two granddaughters, and a grandson on the way, being surrounded by my brood is truly All I Want for Christmas, and I intentionally employ a few principles to ensure I don’t have a Blue Christmas without them.
Here are some precious gifts I’ve purchased over time during my personal journey as a mom. Please unwrap them with care, take them to heart and I guarantee you and the fam will be Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree!
Expectations - Make it a Holly Jolly Christmas by erasing all expectations from everyone involved this year. Now folks, I could stop right there, but for some of you dyed-in-the-wool, traditional types, I will elaborate…
Gifts - Take it from me, ‘every kiss does not begin with Kay®’, and as Americans, we don’t need any additional material possessions, so Santa Baby, why not eliminate this habitual pain in the Christmas arse from your adult family festivities and see what results? No debt, no ‘perfect gift search’ anxiety, no miserable lines at the mall, no competition, no wrapping, no returns, no stress, no shame.
A healthy relationship to my children and their presence in my life is the ‘present’ I most long for and the gift I’m willing to pay the price to realize. Without a drum roll or an attitude, let the kids know you’re not expecting (there’s that word again!) a thing, would prefer no gifts for Christmas, and you’d rather they spend their hard-earned dough on something they need! And if you still want to bless them with a few crisp greenbacks or that perfect item you’ve had your eye on for them, feel free! Just don’t drop any hints beforehand.
Freedom - Controlling mothers, take note. You are likely not in touch with your obsessive nature to ensure perfection by micro-managing every detail and smothering your brood. (emoticon: nervous group laughter) Bottom line, we must address our tendency to control if we want to leave room for our kids to function in freedom. If there isn’t freedom in our presence, they will run and hide, not just at the holidays, but every single day of the year. When Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer and the family was rejoicing, me thinks she was of a domineering sort!
Moods - Baby, It’s Cold Outside all across the U.S. this time of year, but let’s make sure it’s not cold inside, too! Mama, your mood and attitude will set the tone whether it’s a warm glow of love emanating from the heart of your home, or a cold chill driving the kids away. There’s a troll living under the bridge of every woman’s soul. We have to work hard at resisting her desire to manifest. Be a ‘wise woman who builds her home, not a foolish one who tears it down with her own hands’ (Pro. 14:1). Don’t find yourself the subject of this song…
You're a mean one, Mrs. Grinch
You really are a heel.
You're as cuddly as a cactus,
And as charming as an eel.
Food - The Miras' are most definitely foodies. We don’t just eat to live, we live, in large part, to eat fabulous, thoughtful, creative, high quality cuisine at every opportunity - better than most restaurants serve. But if we try too hard, applying pressure to those involved to make everything perfect to our satisfaction, the joy can be lost. Try to remember the perfect truth of this: ‘Better a small serving of vegetables with love than a fattened calf with hatred’ (Pro. 15:17). So if Junior forgets his assigned ingredient and you don’t have those locally farm-raised, organic, non-GMO Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire this Christmas Eve, all is not lost! Pop some popcorn with a smile, and feast on love!
Outside Invites - There are friends and acquaintances outside the Holy Blessed Sacred Idolized family unit who are alone this Christmas, and would love to be included at your dinner table or other family festivities. Open your heart and your home to welcome ‘outsiders’ who are on you or your kids’ hearts. ‘God places the lonely in families’ (Ps. 68:6) and I find, more often than not, the presence of that widowed neighbor, single Army dude or your kids’ roomie enhances our together times and adds a dimension we hadn’t expected. Ask your kids, “Is there anyone you’d enjoy having with us over the holidays?” and see if you can joyfully accommodate their request in some form or fashion.
Thank You Notes to grandma and grandpa, auntie and uncle. Your kid’s in double digits buying his own toilet paper and paying for his own gas; it’s no longer your job to make him write a thank you note. Take a lesson from Elsa and Anna and “Let it go….!” It’s not your responsibility, and quite frankly, it’s none of your business.
Your Married Kids - OK the last thing I want to do on Christmas Day is drive across town thrice, fighting traffic and yelling at the tired kids in the backseat. Twil not make the season bright, right?! Remove the pressssssuuuurrrrrre, mom and dad.
Relieve them of all responsibility to see you on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Did hell just freeze over? Was that blasphemy? No, but my kids want to be with me during the holidays, so maybe you should stop judging and keep reading.
My married children routinely alternate holidays with the opposite sides of the family. I’m not offended and I don’t pout. It’s not about you, mama and daddy, or one single last chance, this calendar day only, holiday. It’s about goodwill and family and serving one another in love and just to key you in, much of the bending and serving is historically done by us - that’s why we’re the parents! I have literally cooked entire Thanksgiving feasts, transported them by rolling cart three floors down to the car, then transferred them across town to the kids where hubby and I unloaded it all. I know. I’m crazy. But I love blessing my kids, and they don’t need me much anymore in practical ways, so I count serving them as my privilege.
Traditions - Maybe it’s time to let go of a few of your sacred, inflexible, stubborn traditions. Six weeks ago, at Thanksgiving, we (GASP!) cooked and ate our entire ‘traditional’ Thanksgiving feast a day early for the benefit of all parties involved and to accommodate desired travel schedules. It was remarkably peaceful, freeing, and we all had a keen sense of wicked satisfaction the next day, thinking of you stressing out over your turkey temperature as we peacefully heated leftovers, played games and let football run all day on the big screen. Other years we’ve eaten holiday dinners at a restaurant…I know you’re shaking your head, but it was fabulous, easy and fun! Then we went to Starbucks and drank eggnog lattes and played board games before we headed to a movie. Traditions can be comforting and therapeutic to the soul, unless they become lifeless laws, sucking our joy.
Judging. Critiquing. Perfecting. - Is a Silent Night exactly what your kids need from you this Christmas? Bite your tongue, folks. Repeat. Maybe even get the tattoo. Do you think I'm kidding?! And while you’re at it, watch your voice tones, helpful suggestions, glares, rolling eyes and all the other tools you use to serve up a side of guilt with that prime rib dinner, giving the whole crew serious indigestion. I’m laughing out loud now, but it's really not funny if it’s true. And by the way, the whole family knows you love Jesus, so how about instead of preaching throughout the entire event, you meditate privately on I Corinthians 13 and then simply ask yourself, “WWJD?” and then do it, quietly.
Family Gossip - So your kid smokes and it smells and you’re embarrassed. And their Facebook posts curl Grandma’s hair. Well grandma’s fat and you overspend and worry too much about what everyone else thinks. Each of us is flawed. What's worse, people pleasing, cigarettes, donuts or debt? If you want to be legalistic about it, ramifications of eating poorly will kill more people this year than the implications of smoking cigarettes. Fact. And encouraging gossip amongst the tribe is divisive and destructive to your family’s togetherness. So put that in your pipe and smoke it with your holiday ham.
Don’t find yourself, mom, dad, playing the lead role in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas this holiday season! At the end of the day, ‘let all that you do, be done in love’ (I Cor. 16:14) If this is your modus operandi each day of the year, and you work at cultivating your priceless, eternal relationships with your children, you will find spontaneous celebrations occurring throughout the year that rival any Christmas Day you’ve experienced. If you let it go, let it go, let it go, day by day, moment by moment, right here, right now, holiday by holiday, you will find it all comes back to you. I can’t speak for you, but I’d much rather enjoy A Merry Little Christmas with my contented, affectionate kids, than a grand affair with no love.
A Prayer to seal the deal: “Lord, you know my heart, you see exactly who I am, and you know my weaknesses. Please help me to apply the truths that have spoken to me through this message. I long to become what I must be, to enter into all You have for me.”
©2015 Denise Mira
 Gifts are always given to younger children and quite often to older children.
 7-17-2013 http://www.foodsafetynews.com/2013/07/poor-dietary-habits-are-killing-people/#.VnBjRDbyfoo
Dear Readers, I want to give YOU a Christmas gift! Simply email me at email@example.com, tell me the number of songs you’ve counted in this article, and I’ll send you a code to receive a FREE electronic copy of my book, No Ordinary Child: Unlocking the Leader Within Your Child to enjoy or give away to someone you love this Christmas season!
Denise Mira, public speaker, educator, author of No Ordinary Child: Unlocking the Leader Within Your Child, and contributing author to many publications, has been married to Gregory for 35 years. They are the parents of five sons, 3 daughters-in-law and 3 grandchildren. Denise has traveled extensively, both nationally and internationally, inspiring change as she shares her empowering message for families. Her honest, down-to-earth communication style is refreshing to listeners. Watch for her sequel, No Ordinary Child Grows Up: The Uncensored Journals of a Mid-life Mama on which she is currently feverishly working! Visit her blog at www.denisemira.com, find her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.