Unexpected Parent Cue December 2015


By Autumn Ward

One night last December, I found myself sitting at the kitchen table making Christmas cookies – by myself.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just that was not the plan. That was not our tradition.

Now that my kids are teenagers with busy schedules of their own, no one else was home but me.  So there I sat, clinging to my tradition, making cookies alone – and feeling pretty sad about the whole thing. (I’m sure I let everyone know how sad I was when they got home.)

One thing parenting has taught me about traditions is that they are easy to start and hard to let go.

So what happens when the kids get older and you find yourself experiencing more transition than tradition?

The first thing I had to do was accept that transition is a part of life. It’s evidence that my kids are growing up and growing up is a good thing. It’s ok that they don’t want to watch Frosty the Snowman or make ornaments out of felt anymore. Now that they’re college and high school age their interests have changed – they are transitioning. Knowing that, if we want to stay connected with our kids, tweaking a tradition or even starting a new one needs to happen.

Second, their dad and I had to decide which traditions were worth clinging to and which ones we needed to let go. We did this by simply asking the kids which traditions meant the most to them. This helped so much! I was surprised by some of the things they said, like getting a peppermint milkshake in our PJs while driving around looking at Christmas lights had to stay. That one still gets two thumbs up! Making the gingerbread house on the other hand…it could go. (And while we’re at it, the Christmas cartoons could go too!) Who knew? They knew! Deciding on traditions with the kids gave us permission to let go of some things – guilt free – and stop trying to force moments to happen that they had outgrown.

Finally, I had to remind myself the purpose of traditions in the first place. Traditions are meant to keep us connected to the ones we love and give us a sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves – not make us feel exhausted, frustrated and disappointed (maybe even a little depressed). As long as I have a relationship with my kids, things are good. We don’t have to make Christmas cookies to stay connected or to have a relationship or even to have a wonderful Christmas. We just need time with each other.

Now that I have one kid away at college and two teens at home, being together in the same place at the same time is difficult, which makes keeping up with our traditions difficult. I’m learning to make the most of the time I have with my family rather than pout over the time I don’t have.
If we have some minutes in the car, we turn up the Christmas music and sing together. So what if we’re not gathered around the fireplace like we did when they were younger.
Since watching the holiday Hallmark movies is one of my kids’ favorite things to do, I make sure and record them so when we find ourselves together I can pop the popcorn and have a spontaneous movie night.

I allow my kids’ friends to join the fun because my kids really like being with their friends. Rather than look at it like their friends are invading our traditions, I’m thankful my kids and their friends are letting me hangout with them. It’s all in your perspective.

The point is we’re together, staying connected with the ones we love during the holidays.  After all, when you really think about it, it’s the relationship with your kids you should be fighting for, not the tradition. So keep a loose grip on those traditions but hold tightly to the hearts of your kids.


As parents, it can be tempting to assume which holiday traditions are most important for our family members and which ones aren’t. This Christmas, try asking your son or daughter…

•Which Christmas traditions do you hope we keep going for a long time?
•Which ones would you be okay with ending?
•What is one new tradition you’d like to start this year?

By starting the conversation, you may be surprised at what you find. Sometimes traditions that seem silly to us are the most meaningful and memorable to our kids. Remember, fight for the relationship with your kid, not the tradition.

Christmas Behind the Scenes 2


Have you ever broken up with someone right before the holidays just to avoid buying them a gift? If you
said yes, you’re not alone. According to data analyzed from Facebook posts, two weeks before Christmas
is one of the most popular times of the year for couples to break up. On the opposite end of the spectrum,
however, is Christmas Day. Christmas Day is the least favorite day of the year for couples to break up (if
you’re thinking about dumping someone on Christmas Day, don’t be that guy/girl!)

Whether you’re breaking up or making up this Christmas (or glad you’re not dealing with either one), one
thing can be said for sure about the holiday season: it stirs up emotions. Maybe for you it’s excitement. What
am I going to get? Will the people I bought gifts for like what I’m giving them? Maybe it’s dread. Will my
cousin brag about all the stuff he got that’s cooler than my stuff? Will my sister get that Sally-Wets-Herself
doll and get fake baby pee all over me? The holidays are an emotional time.

And the thing about emotions is that they feel so real. You can feel like your life is over because you didn’t
get those leather boots that you wanted. You can feel like everything in your life is perfect because you got
the latest gaming station that set your parents back several hundred dollars. You can feel a lot of things that
aren’t actually true. That’s why it’s important that we never make a decision based only on our emotions.

So how do you make decisions that aren’t just based on emotions?

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all
your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (NIV).

The Bible tells us not to “lean” or solely rely on our own understanding, or our own emotions or thoughts
when it comes to decision-making. The Bible says that if we trust the Lord and submit to Him (decide to
trade what you want for what He wants), that He will our paths straight.

The next time you’re about to make a big decision or even a little one, pause to ask yourself, “Is this based
on an emotion I’m feeling right now? Have I invited God into the decision-making process? Am I trusting
God for the outcome?”

Another key is getting other people involved.

Proverbs 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Basically,
failing to ask for advice, specifically from wiser people, can really mess you up. Do you have a wise, older
person you can confide in when you need to make key decisions? Consider finding someone with these
• Someone you trust.
• Someone who makes wise decisions in their own life.
• Someone who cares about you enough to be honest with you.
What are some difficult or confusing decisions you’re facing right now?

Christmas Behind the Scenes


One of the best-known Christmas songs is Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Remember how it starts? “You
know Dasher, and Dancer, and Prancer, and Vixen…” Actually, I usually mumble the rest of the song because
I can’t remember the other names. But I still love it. Just the idea that Santa travels all over the world in a big
red sleigh pulled by eight flying reindeer—it’s incredible, right?

But did you know that Santa actually has several modes of transportation depending on which country you’re
in? Take Australia, for example. The Santa Down Under rides a kangaroo around the Outback to deliver his
gifts. In Hawaii, Santa paddles a canoe. He rides a horse in the Netherlands. And he travels by a donkey in
Switzerland. The Santa in the Czech Republic is really fancy. He actually drops from heaven on a golden cord.
(Yeah—that one wins.)

After hearing all those it makes you wonder where the idea of flying reindeer ever came from. The truth is,
no one really knows. But the history of Rudolph is a little clearer. In 1939, Robert L. May created Rudolph
as the “ugly duckling” reindeer since May himself was picked on as a child due to his small stature. No one
could have foreseen the wild success that Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer would have.

Maybe you can relate the idea of being the underdog. Maybe you know how it feels to be the small one, the
not-as-smart one, the second string one, the non-popular one. Or maybe you are popular, but you still don’t
like yourself very much. Or maybe you think you’re just an average kid who isn’t too good or too bad at
anything, but you just don’t feel important. You just don’t feel irreplaceable.

But God would look at you and tell you that you’re absolutely wrong.

Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God
prepared in advance for us to do” (NIV).

Another translation of this verses calls us God’s “masterpiece.” Another says we are His “Workmanship.” In
other words, we were hand-carved by an inspired Creator on purpose. God wants to use you. If He didn’t,
He wouldn’t have created you. You exist for a specific and predetermined purpose.

This Christmas season, I want you think about why you were created.
1. What gift, talent, or skill did God give you that you can offer others?
2. What’s one way you can use it.

Spend some time praying. If you can’t think of a gift, talent, or skill, ask God to reveal one to you. Or ask God to put a passion inside of your to influence the lives of people around you.