Celebrating the Holidays with Adult Kids and Less Stress

I hate to sound cliché but the holidays are upon us. Yes, we are only in the first few days of October, but you know I’m right. Christmas decorations have taken over Hobby Lobby; even Target has started a small section for Christmas lights. Thanksgiving and Christmas will be here soon. Can you feel the tension creeping in?

I don’t want to but I kinda can. We have three kids living in three different states. They each have in-laws in different states. We have two grandsons. Please know—all the in-laws play nice; but logistically it is impossible for the kids to be in more than one home at a time. So moms (whose goal is to be a blessing to your kids), you and I need two things to have a holiday season that makes a sweet memory and does not disappoint.


  1. Adjust expectations. The holidays will never be the same as they were when your children were kids. Change is part of life. It is good. We wouldn’t want life to stay the same; that would mean people aren’t growing.

Right now you’re probably nodding your head—Yes, yes, I want my kids to grow            and live their own lives. And in your next breath you think—Just not at the           holidays. Then I want everyone home like it used to be. Or maybe that’s just me.

So where does that leave us? It is time to assess our new normal. Start by asking:

  • Who can be home?
  • Maybe also ask—who wants to be home? No sense in making plans around someone who has no intention of coming home.
  • Would a different day (other than the actual holiday) work better?

Learning these answers are essential to the next step—planning. We also need the time between now and the holidays to accept the answers to those questions. That’s why now is the time to start the conversation about each family member’s plans for the holidays.

One of our daughter’s switches Thanksgiving and Christmas with her in-laws. One year with them for Thanksgiving, the next year with us. One daughter always does Thanksgiving with her in-laws and Christmas with us. So yes, you see we never have the whole family here for Thanksgiving. At first it was hard. This is our new normal. I have come to a place where it’s okay.

  1. Make a plan. Ask your kids—What are your plans? Maybe this is the year you will start a plan that everyone can work with and plan for. For example you might try the-every-other-year-every-other-holiday plan for a couple of years to see if it is a good fit. We have also tried celebrating on a day other than the actual holiday. My goal is to have everyone here at the same time—if possible.

     3. Back to adjust expectations—Count on something not working as planned.              The reality is I can’t control any of my kids. Yes, I will do all the above, but I can’t            make any of my kids do what I say or stick to a plan. You could try to emotionally            manipulate, argue, and debate. And it might work—this year. But next year your       kids may make different plans for the holidays—ones which don’t include a trip home.

The bottom line is plans are only as good as the people who agree to them. As I said, I cannot make any of my kids stick to what we agree to. But the choice is mine to not let any part of the plan, which doesn’t go as planned, ruin my time with those who are here. I always tell the kids, “We will celebrate and have a great time with whoever is here.” That you can count on.

*Picture compliments of Nubia Navarro via StockSnap.io.

Brenda Garrison is an author and speaker who empowers women with the confidence to live their calling. Brenda is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Ministry Leadership with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry at Moody Bible Institute. She and her husband, Gene, are the parents of three young adult daughters and live near Metamora, IL.

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