Many of us are celebrating some important and meaningful holidays this time of year. Its been enjoyable over the years observing the holidays through different lenses: as a child, bringing my future spouse to celebrate with my family (and when I went to her family celebration), as a married couple, with children of our own, and today, when our children are old enough to begin understanding and interacting with our traditions.
But this year I had a very difficult time reverting back to experiencing the holiday through the original lens: as a son.
Because holiday time is often synonymous with family - and extended family - time, we try to join either my parents or my in-laws for nearly every holiday. This expectation is starting to annoy me.
I'm ready to have the holiday celebrations and traditions be my family celebrations. Not the way of my parents, not my in-laws, not my siblings.
I love my parents, their ways used to be mine (and still are, for the most part), but I want to create my own traditions and have time that's focused on just me, my wife and our boys. That doesn't mean I don't want our parents to be a part of it - or that I don't ever want to celebrate in their homes - but I feel the need to carve out our own space.
I see one solution as hosting the larger family celebrations in our house, but I often hear "that's not how we do it in our family", i.e. don't ask them to change how they honor and celebrate their holidays and traditions.
The second challenge is spending extended time in my parents' house. (We live in different parts of the country, so holiday time tends to be a minimum of 4 days together.)
I don't know if its a battle of alpha males or what, but I end up clashing with my parents (mostly my dad), who view me primarily as their son, and have a difficult time viewing me as an adult with my own family. What matters most is their family, not my family. The decisions my wife and I make, from this perspective, should be made with the impact on them as a top priority. This is something they have a difficult time with in general, but it gets exacerbated around holiday time and especially when I'm sleeping in the room I grew up in!
Well, my primary role is decidedly not as a son. I love my parents, I will always be their son, but in the different roles that make up me, there are many roles that come before son: husband, father, employee, self, friend. The impact on my parents of the decisions my wife and I make is definitely taken into consideration. Its just generally not at the top of the priority list (well behind husband and dad), though at times it moves up quite a bit.
We've got a couple of months before the next series of holiday celebrations are upon us. I'd be curious to hear about strategies you've employed to navigate between being a son (or daughter) at holiday time and creating your own space and traditions.
(Photo Source: www.bessel.org/ parents.htm)