Grandparents And The Holidays


grandparents and the holidays

Grandparents come in maybe shapes, sizes, and family dysfunctions. 

No matter whether the grandparents are near or far, involved or not, there is usually a holiday component to your interaction with them.  For the most part, grandparents want to participate in their grandchildren’s holidays, that’s usually a given.  

Sometimes its hard to predict the expectation.  

Will they be sending a gift, inviting you over or knocking on your door suitcases in hand?  

My son is blessed with more grandparents then frankly we know what to do with.  A great problem to have.

 My husband’s mother and stepdad moved a few blocks away when my son was about 9 months old. My parents live just the next town over about a 10-12 minute drive.  My husband’s father and stepmother live across the country and their major interaction is phone and Facebook.

Then there is a great-grandmother on my husband’s side in Northern California who can’t travel but we keep in touch and cherish her cards and quilts. He also has a grandmother in South Orange County in an Assisted Living we try and visit at least every other month who somehow has always made the trek to a local store to buy her great-grandson another give or outfit.

It takes a village so there are also some “adoptive grandparents” who are of grandparent age, love my kid and spoil him when they can.  Like I said a pretty good problem to have! 

I don’t know about you but sometimes navigating “grandparent world” feels like a full-time job.

For me, I put this job in two categories.

Number one, communication.  Navigating what they say they want and need and what they really want and need.  Whether grandparents admit it or not they have expectations and desires but they also are not in charge (even the ones that try and be). They have their lives you have yours.  how do we combine them to make everyone happy?  

Number two, picking my battles.  This one dovetails on number one.  Grandparents don’t always interact with your children the way you do.  They have different ideas and rules then you do.  When do I put my foot down and when do I let them watch a third episode of Sesame Street because Grandpa is tired of playing up and down the stairs? 

candleholder-304891__340For me, having no more living grandparents (my last living grandparent was my Grandma Helen who died a year ago September at 94 when my son was about 6 months old) spending time with grandparents, especially around the holidays, is about making memories.  

Holidays are about making memories, the two go hand in hand.

 But how do we accommodate everyone? Well, we don’t. Just like parenting, I figure if I have the best intentions and I deliver with love, I’m ahead of the game.

Here’s my plan…feel free to steal it and adapt it to your needs.

How to Survive the Holidays with Satisfied Grandparents 

  1. I’m going to do my best not to stress or need to control
  2. I’m going to make a list of “the hills I’m willing to die on” as my dad would say. This means the battles I’m willing to fight.  What is most important to me.  For example my soon to be 22 month old does not need a toy gun.  We will eat dinner early enough for bedtime to be around the normal time because just because its a holiday doesn’t mean the day after has to be torturous.  We will celebrate all 8 nights of Hannukah even though my son wouldn’t know the difference if we only did 5 (ok that one is more for me, I’m pregnant and tired.) But you get the idea.
  3. I’m going to ASK each grandparent their thoughts and desires for the holidays and try and accommodate and when I can’t I will explain why…communication what a concept!
  4. I am going to focus on the meaning of the holidays and the memories we are creating. I know it sounds obvious but its so easy to get caught up in the rest of it and that is what is going to take away the peace and joy I want to create.
  5. I’m going to make a conscious effort to honor their traditions while creating new ones.
  6. I’m going to do my best to be patient and grateful.  I’m going to try and have no expectations. Just as there is no handbook for parenting there is no handbook for grandparenting.  Everyone is different and everyone is going to do it differently.  It might not look how I want it to but that’s ok.  It will be what it is and it will be a new memory.

No matter your beliefs or what or how you celebrate.  This is a time of year to remember giving, generosity, love, and family.  I’m not going to let it stress me out. I’m going to be grateful for all my son has, and all the people that love him.  I hope you can do the same. 

I would love to hear your tips for navigating the holidays with family

Happy Holidays!

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I grew up in Orange County then went to Los Angeles (with a short detour in Santa Barbara) for college and spent the next 12 years there thinking that was home until I met my amazing, now husband on and moved back here to start our life together. I have a young son and daughter that are two years apart. They are thick as thieves and keep us laughing. I worked in Hospice care for 15 years and now I take Working Mom to a whole new dimension with a private mental health practice I worked hard with many jobs hustling for many years to grow my own business. I'm proud to say I'm helping people in my own office full time. The decision to quit my full time job working for some one else and to work towards creating much needed grief, trauma and self esteem support in Orange County fills my soul. I may not spend 24/7 with my kids but I plan to be role model to them and the time we have is all about quality not quantity. I'm working on a life/work balance but I find this is much easier when I love all aspects of my life and work and self.