Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Choices: The Holiday edition

I seem to be stuck on my recent post about choices ("When Yes means No"). But if you're getting bored, don't worry. I'll be moving on to new topics soon. Or going back to old ones, like budgeting...

Anyway, as the holiday season approaches (What's that you say? Thanksgiving is only a week away?!?), I've been thinking about the painful process of deciding who to spend the holidays with every year. When my husband and I were first married, we lived close to both sets of parents. At first we thought this was a boon, and in some ways it really was. But it also meant that we felt like we had to spend holidays with both of our families, which led to some pretty crazy days of running around in a mad dash to see everyone...and very little time to actually enjoy being with our loved ones. Saying "yes" to everyone really isn't the greatest idea.

Things changed when we moved 6 hours away. My in-laws also moved, putting them an hour away from us. Strangely enough, this freed us by forcing us to choose more decisively. In an effort at fairness, we decided to alternate holidays. Thanksgiving with one family, Christmas with the other, and then switch the next year. I think this has worked well, although I don't know if anyone is ever fully satisfied with holiday visits. It seems like they're always too short or rushed. 

For example, our trips to visit my family still suffer from the strain of trying to spend time with too many people. I've tried going schedule-free to reduce the stress, and just go with the flow. That worked out about as poorly as you can imagine. I've tried scheduling precisely when I will visit with each person, but that wasn't much better. I'm really at a loss as to how to fully enjoy the experience of these trips home. Occasionally, I even agonize over what we're missing out on once we've made a choice. I think this is where the flip side of "yes means no" comes into play...once you do say yes to something, you have to stop thinking about what or who it is you've said "no" to and throw yourself wholly into whatever it is you're doing. 

I was better at doing this in college, when I lived by my personal mantra of "Never be afraid. Never be ashamed. Never be in a hurry." Now...not so much. Of course, now that we're a family of three, holidays are probably going to be changing again. This is a new year, with a new chance to embrace the joy of the season, and new choices to make. Time to look forward.

EDIT: I just have to add that Sheila over at To Love, Honor and Vacuum has a great post up on gift giving. Check it out!

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