A Change In Holidays

We tell our kids that the holidays are about spending time with family.

But, at the end of the day, don’t we focus we more on the traditions the holidays have assigned to them, than the actual time spent together?

This actually changes.

When are children are away for months at a time, we tend to focus more on wanting to spend time with them when they “get back.”

The Challenge

As pre-adults, our kids are going to want to see all their friends when they get home for the holidays. We really need to let that happen. I know there’s a huge amount of excitement and we have a whole bunch of questions for them, but they’re likely going to be OK with a “Hi,” a hug, and an “I’ll be back at ten.”

Let them go. …Again.

If you’re hoping for the “Oh mom/dad, I missed you so much!”, this will likely not happen. Well, at least not immediately. Give it some space.

Their excitement is really about seeing all their High School friends and talking about all the “new” experiences happening at college. New boys… new girls… new games… new trends… new stuff.

Admit it. You love talking about that stuff to your friends, too.

After The Excitement

Here’s something I learned, but wasn’t expecting:

Our kids are actually looking forward to the routine of being home, too.

But, it’s overshadowed by their pre-adult “life.” So, that has to come first.

Scheduling dinner at your favorite restaurant the night they get home will likely result in a teenager plowing through dinner, rushing to get somewhere else. That’s not quite what you’re looking for.

But… schedule that same dinner a few nights after they’re home and see how different it is.

Sure, you’ll overhear “Oh, I’ve got to go to dinner with Mom, Thursday.” But, when Thursday comes, you’re much more likely to get their full attention, and maybe even a couple stories without having to dig it out of them.

If you want to be super-parent, try changing dinner to lunch… late lunch.

Being a teenager hasn’t changed that much. Teenagers still sleep late. Teenagers still stay up ridiculously late. Teenagers still want to “chillax” with their friends… or whatever the cool kids say these days.

So, after the excitement of coming home to their old friends wears off, then do that “thing” that feels-like-home routine.

I know for my daughter and I, it’s a routine thing, not some new thing. OK, wait… maybe it’s a partially new thing, partially routine thing.

Getting Vietnamese food has become a bit of a thing for her and I. I definitely tried to make it during the day and scheduled it around her working. But, there is a new restaurant that opened close to home, and that makes sense. Kinda new. Kinda the same.

She liked that balance. I like checking out a new place with her.

Holiday Day

When the holiday gets here, though, it is all about family. It’s about spending time together.

As a parent, the best part of the day is re-connecting with your child. The gifts don’t matter. The drive doesn’t matter. The meal and sides don’t have to be perfect.

It’s all just spending time with your child – your family. Really.

In theory, holidays are supposed to be about celebrating the meaning of whichever one it is. But, in practice, we tend to focus on the traditions. We always do this for that holiday.

But, when you haven’t seen your favorite person for six months, that changes.

Turkey sandwiches from the convenience store, instead of a three course turkey dinner, easily replaces… whatever that holiday was.

…and that feels much more fulfilling.


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