‘That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.’ (Genesis 2: 24, NIV)
This is the Word of God, and it establishes a number of expectations regarding what a marriage should be:
- a union of two mature people (‘man…wife’)
- a start of a new family (‘united’)
- unity between husband and wife (‘united…one flesh’)
- a foundation of intimacy and trust (‘one flesh’)
- a dynamic process (‘they become‘)
The “becoming” is the part that throws many marriages into a spin–a spiral from which many marriages never return. It occurs to me why holidays are so stressful for families, and why the obnoxious or overzealous relative is the stuff that sitcoms are made of.
Personally, it took us a number of years to come together in how we celebrate our holidays, and most of what I now see as “traditions” have nothing to do with any deliberate intentions on our part. As these things happen, it was when we stopped forcing the festivities that the “norm” for us fell into place.
In the earliest years of our marriage, before both my parents passed away, we made a point of spending one holiday with my husband’s parents and the other with mine. And we alternated–one year was Thanksgiving with my in-laws and Christmas with my family, then Thanksgiving with my family and Christmas with his the next year. Once my parents went to be with the Lord, our traditions became less solidified. My adult siblings with their adult children managed the holidays differently than our family with younger children, and my husband’s family was very small and all local. The fact that we saw them fairly regularly created a different holiday “vibe,” as opposed to visiting with my family, whom we saw less than once per year at that point.
We also dismissed with the traditional turkey during this season. In truth, none of us likes it, and there was far, far too much of it left for us to struggle with eating.
So, years later, having let go of the declarations about where we spend time and with whom, having eaten whatever strikes our mood, and even incorporating some rare family game time, there are a few “traditions” that have revealed themselves.
First, the meal–our meal, in which everyone has a favorite dish.
I cooked that yard bird (aka chicken) 3-4 different ways, but everyone sat down to the table enthused, then satisfied. More importantly, by Monday, we had no leftovers. The mac n’ cheese was our son’s main dish, but it with the greens (not pictured) and the green beans went fast enough for me to think that it was sufficiently tasty for us all.
Apparently, we have also begun another family tradition–the holiday field/ road trip.
We never go too far away from home, but we seem to find a place that transforms us back to a time when all our kids were small. With one gone and one leaving, recapturing those moments as five are so much more precious now, even when we are on each other’s last nerve.
Christmas traditions? We are still in a state of flux there, but more on that later.
What holiday traditions have you established?