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The planning has started. People are getting excited about their favorite holiday whether it’s Thanksgiving or Christmas. The cooler weather and turning leaves have us thinking about turkey and dressing, ham and macaroni and cheese, pumpkin pie and cheesecake. Most of us are thinking about decorating and parties, food and gift giving. Many of us are thinking about the cherished family gathering, while others are wondering if the family will be gathering at all.
It’s easy, however, to think on these things and expect someone else to step up and take the lead. If you are like me, you somehow assumed that your parents would always be in charge of family gatherings or that somehow things would not change as the older generation left us.
On the one hand, we are excited to be right smack dab in the middle of the fall/winter holidays, but on the other, there’s a sort of sadness because, well, things do change. As things change–like they always do–we have to be willing to change with them.
We have to be willing
For many years, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners (well, all family gatherings) were hosted by my granny, then my parents. Now, Granny is gone, and my parents are getting on in years and suffer from different ailments. It’s really not fair to expect them to carry on the hosting tradition.
A wise woman once told me when I was lamenting about how sad it was that we probably wouldn’t even have a family gathering on Thanksgiving… “If you want to do something, do it. Don’t expect someone else to do it for you.”
At first, I thought how rude her reply was. But then I realized what she meant was “take charge, do the thing if you want to.” Once I got over the shock of her bluntness, I realized I had been waiting for someone else to do it. I had been expecting all along that one of my older family members would take the tradition on, but the truth is we need to take it. If you want it to happen (no matter what it is) you have to just own it. That’s certainly not to say that you can’t enlist the help of others, but someone has to take charge and get the ball rolling.
Take it to heart
I have taken that advice to heart, and while our family gatherings and holiday dinners are anything but fancy, I love having my family here around me. I don’t have to be upset that we’re not gathering because as long as I’m able, we will.
For the most part, your family will be thankful you took charge. Most families do want to gather, but for whatever reason, no one has taken charge. Everybody is waiting for somebody to step up. You be that one.
I’ll be honest: it doesn’t come without work, but the work is worth it. When it is all said and done, you will be glad you did.
A couple years ago, our family gathered for the first ever reunion of my granny’s children and their children. It came about after I sat in my cousin’s husband’s funeral. I looked around and saw all the faces I love so much, grieving. I grieved two-fold: on the one hand, I grieved for my cousin and her kids, but on the other, I grieved for our lost relationships over the years. We had drifted apart. And I was furious with myself for letting it happen.
I decided right then, that I would take the blunt old lady’s advice and just do it. I meant I would not sit through another funeral regretting the time I let slip by.
Don’t you do it either, friend. Do the thing. Take the initiative. Seize the time. Make it happen. Please don’t let another year pass without gathering.
Sitting in the chapel pew next to my cousins that day a few years back as we were waiting for the service to start, turned to my cousin to my left and said, “Why are we only seeing each other here? At a funeral. This sucks. What do you think about a family reunion?” She smiled and agreed that it did indeed suck and that yes, we should have a reunion. As we huddled grieving that day, we decided we would do something to change it, and the next time I saw these dear ones would not be at a funeral.
Without delay, I reached out to the elder members of the family and explained my heart behind it and how much I had missed seeing my family. What I found out was that I wasn’t the only one missing them. We were all missing each other, but everyone was busy with all the things of life. No one had considered that it was time to pause our lives one afternoon a year and gather as a family as we once had.
How does this look for you?
Talk to your family and see what they think. Chances are they won’t have a problem, but if they do or if they seem offended, offer your help if they want to plan the family gathering. Help them to understand that you aren’t taking over, but trying to ease a burden by heading it up. I honestly believe that you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
You will thank yourself; I promise. In addition, you’ll be amazed at how thankful your friends and family are. In turn? You’ll be amazingly thankful and blessed, too!