Last year, I wrote about some of the practical issues around managing. This post is more about making celebrations a happy time for everyone. Please note that we don't always get things right but these are some thoughts from experience.
- Go to basics-why is this celebration happening? Christmas is coming and as a Christian, this is to remember the birth of the Lord Jesus. We try to focus on this-all three generations go to the service, health permitting, and listen to Bible readings.
- I guess that most people reading this are in the "middle generation". It is very easy to feel sorry for oneself-I know, I've been there. This isn't helpful and the celebration isn't about me. Other people can and should help but be realistic about what other people can do. An older relative may not be able to do anything; a six year old may not to able to peel vegetables but probably can lay the table. Children can be a great help and they need to know that the celebration isn't all about them either.
- Allow plenty of time. Most of us rush around all year. It is good to have allowed enough time to talk, relax and even sleep. It doesn't matter if tea is an hour late.
- Make the present opening accessible to everyone. Grandparents like to see children open their gifts. We try to make sure that this happens at a relatively reasonable hour for everyone although doubtless compromises will have to be made.
- Keep a list of presents received. Do you need to make a tactful list for grandparents or greatgrandparents or will they remember who gave each gift?
- Meals should be a time for everyone. This isn't always easy. The combinations of deafness, training children and disparities in rates of eating can be challenging. It is worth thinking beforehand about what will be difficult, for example, if one child hates Christmas pudding, it may be worth providing an alternative.
- Clearing up can involve as many as possible.
- Everyone doesn't have to do everything. Children may need a walk whereas this may not be feasible for the frail elderly.
- Simple games can, theoretically, involve everyone although it never seems to work that way for us.
- Photographs and reminiscences can help create ties between the generations.
- Don't plan too much. Frailer people and children will find hoards of people and a relentless timetable very tiring and being honest, so do most of us.
- Things don't always go to plan. People do end up seeing the emergency doctor or you may end up collecting tablets from the 24 hour pharmacy.
I do hope that you have a happy and restful holiday but that even if you don't, you will look to the Lord God for strength. If we love Him, we can rely on His promise
My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.
2 Corinthians 12 v9