*See past posts in this series here.
On Day 4 of the challenge, Karen focuses on In-Laws and Outlaws. Now, I don’t know about you, but I do know that dealing with the in-laws can be a real source of contention and stress for many people during the holiday season. There have been many times, over the years, when I’ve been stressed over this very thing as well.
So, how do we deal with those hard-to-handle relatives? In Brian’s family, there are definitely “outlaws”. They have chosen, as a collective group, to have their Christmas festivities and exclude the troublemakers. That definitely seems to work the best and keep the peace.
One thing that we have chosen to do for our immediate family is to no longer participate in the gift exchange that the kids do at this gathering. We didn’t make this decision due to financial reasons; but rather due to the fact that we are trying to teach our children not to want so much, or to expect a gift at every holiday gathering we attend. This was simple to incorporate last year, as we had an upcoming trip to Disney to look forward to – and we simply told our kids we’d rather spend that extra money for them at the parks. This year, I asked if they would like to participate in the exchange, and each one of them said “no”. Guess something sunk in with them, as there is not a Disney trip to hold over them this year.
While keeping the peace with the in-laws really isn’t an issue for us, due to the way Brian’s family handles the holidays, I did really appreciate Karen’s advice (as this can be applied to any person who rubs you the wrong way!):
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” ~Romans 12:18
You see, I cannot control another person’s behavior.
I can only control my reaction to that behavior.
I cannot control another’s actions, be they hurtful or cruel.
I can only control my own actions, making sure they are not hurtful and cruel.
I cannot control others’ opinions of me—or my mothering, or my cooking or my political philosophies.
I can only control my conduct, making sure that it is pleasing to God.
I cannot control the circumstances in my extended family this Christmas.
I can only control my responses in the midst of those circumstances, making sure to run them through the grid of God’s word.
What about you? Do you deal with holiday stress due to your in-laws? How do you combat that stress?