One of my favourite lines from the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond was this one: “No good can come from family."
I know it's not actually true — unless Marie Barone was your mother-in-law — but there is a grain of truth to it.
Anybody stressing yet about the upcoming family Christmas?
Assuming, for a moment, we are not all from the Hallmark cookie-cutter families seen daily on the 'W' network, these can be challenging times.
I thought about it after hearing the newlywed Royals are throwing a monkey wrench into the tradition at Buckingham Palace this year.
It seems Meghan and Harry want to start their own traditions now that they have little one and prefer not to hobnob with the rest of the clan.
While it could seem, at first, to be selfish, it's actually called boundary setting and is pretty healthy.
I say good for them for having the guts.
I can remember as a kid being pulled in 10 directions so we could spent time with all branches of the family.
We had to start to open gifts Christmas Eve so that Christmas morning, right after Santa's presents, we could get bundled up and on the road to one grandma’s house for lunch so we could open gifts there, shovel in some lunch before getting re-bundled for another drive to the other grandparent’s home in another town for a giant dinner nobody was hungry for.
Talk about too much of a good thing!
As children, we just wanted to stay home and play with our toys.
Our parents were trying to make everyone happy, so neither side of the family felt cheated.
We all felt cheated.
Neither side would bend.
Add to the mix blended families, multiple children with their own families and you can just feel the inner tinsel tangling!
There are two issues as I see it:
- Nobody set boundaries.
- Nobody was willing to be flexible.
It would have been so much easier on everyone if one side of the family agreed to take Boxing Day or the week before Christmas or the week after.
What a gift flexibility (without guilt) would have been!
Hopefully, if you are the matriarch or patriarch of a family, you can find it within yourself to make holiday life easier for your kids, even if they are adults themselves.
Give them the gift of not having to get on Highway 400 in the snow to make it in time for dinner on a certain day at a certain time.
There’s a reason everyone gets sick at Christmas. The lead-up is insanely busy, so when the day comes and you stop for a minute, you realize you have been running on empty for weeks.
Back to the Royals... the princes have their own children now and likely want to be home in their own little castles. I don’t care if she is the Queen, having tea with granny is still not a big thrill for a little kid.
Imagine Her Majesty trying to set the table place cards this year.
She’ll have empty chairs where Harry and his gang would have been.
She’d be better to just hang out with the corgis. She’d likely prefer it.
Let’s face it, every family has its issues.
The main thing is to connect over the holiday season. It shouldn’t matter if it's actually Dec. 25.
Bring the good intentions on a Tuesday.
Bring your better angels to the table.
Forget the calendar and just bring the great joy and the casserole!