However, now, we have split the days up. The timespan spent at each home is shorter and we don’t allow guilt to consume us if we can’t make it somewhere.
Sweet friends, I want you to consider this.
When you exceed your budget by hundreds of dollars, simply to fulfill America’s expectation of giving a gift to everyone in your family (which they will likely take to Goodwill in 6 months), you are forfeiting your boundaries and possibly making an unwise financial decision for your own little family.
When you and your spouse are at one another’s throats because you have to put on a false smile for your in-laws who you swear have it out for you, you are sacrificing the health of the one you were intended to cling to for the family that you were intended to separate from after you said, ‘I do.’
Here’s what I’m not saying:
I’m not saying that you should say ‘no’ to everything and everyone. Scripture reminds us that those who are faithful in very little are also faithful with much.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t buy gifts. We are called to be generous with the money that we have because ultimately it is God’s, not ours. I don’t necessarily equate that verse to giving gifts on Christmas, but I do think there is something special about the joy that comes from placing presents under the tree for those we love.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t make small sacrifices to spend time with your husband’s family or that he shouldn’t spend time with yours.
Philippians 2:3-4 says, “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
It is important to place your spouse’s needs above your own and to place other people (even extended family) above your own needs as well. Our reward for doing so may not ever come on this earth, but they will be waiting for us in heaven.
I encourage you to love your extended family so well throughout the entire year that the holidays aren’t a question of whether or not your family is important to you, simply because you can’t attend one Thanksgiving dinner.
Here’s the thing: Jesus has given YOU freedom. Even on the holidays.
This year, let us leave behind the obligation and lie that we need to be all things to all people.
Instead, let’s focus on honoring God with our lives while clinging to our own little families during the holiday season.
Slow down. Go to church or make a cup of hot cocoa and enjoy the day inside with your little family. Simply do your best to love and serve those around you without allowing pressure or obligation to consume you.
And most importantly, spread true joy and the love of Jesus with those you come across. It might even be a lot easier this time around because you’ll be rested enough to do so.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone!
A version of this post originally appeared at sparrowsandlily.com, published with permission.