Today I am going to discuss holidays and family visits. First I will explain what our family does. Ram's parents usually come and spend Thanksgiving with us. They would rather not come at Christmas or Easter when Ram is super busy with church. They try to also come in the spring for a visit, but that doesn't always work out since Ram's dad is not retired yet. Ewe's parents try to come 2 or 3 times a year. Ewe's parents are retired but Ewe's dad teaches a weekly Bible study that he doesn't like to miss. Last year they came for Easter and they enjoyed celebrating Holy Week at our small churches. They may try to come for Easter again this year. Sometimes Ewe's parents come when Ram has a conference to help Ewe with the Lambs. A consideration for when all of our family visits is when the least chance of snow/bad weather is. Ewe's sister tried to come visit us once a year. We would help her pay for a plane ticket because it is easier for her to come to us than for us to go to her. It was always tricky to figure out when she would visit because we live 3-4 hours away from the airport so she needed to arrive a time we could pick her up and depart a time we could take her back. This became a whole day to pick her up and take her back. It was always worth it to see her though. We won't see her at until at least October this year because she is in South Korea for a year. I have read many blogs that discuss holidays for a pastor's family so I won't repeat the whole discussion here. The fact is that we are too far from family to celebrate any holidays with them unless they come here. Ram is too busy on the major holidays to spend much time with family that visits. Here are a few ideas that we either do or I have heard that other pastors do for the holidays.
1. Celebrate at a different time of the year. If your family can only come in July then have Christmas in July. I think it would be fun to play Christmas music, have a Christmas tree, make Christmas cookies, and eat a Christmas dinner with the whole family in July. I have heard some locals here celebrate Christmas in October when they don't have to worry about weather and people can get off of work easier. Ram's family would love for us to make the tradition to celebrate the 4th of July with them each year and make that a big holiday that we always spend together. Instead of celebrating Christmas with your family on Christmas day, do it on Epiphany when things have died down at church a little bit (and depending on weather, maybe a lot). Last week we made a whole turkey dinner (turkey, mashed potatoes/gravy, sweet potatoes, corn, pumpkin pie, lemon pie) just for our family to enjoy. Ram and Ewe plan to celebrate their 10th anniversary a little early this summer when Ewe's parents can babysit the Lambs.
2. Make your own traditions. Since it will just be your family at home for the major holidays, start traditions that your children can have done each year. Some traditions our family has done and would like to continue: Small gifts in the stockings for the 12 days of Christmas and a big gift on Epiphany. We eat crepes and lingonberries for Christmas and special snack foods-not a big Christmas meal. After 2 church services on New Year's Eve, we let the Lambs stay up a little later and have special snacks and pop (rare treat here). We make cut out cookies for several holidays each year. We have a party with special snacks and non-alcoholic pina colatas when Ewe gets the taxes done. We make a special breakfast for Valentine's Day. We decorate Easter eggs the day before Easter. We try to go out to eat for Mother's and Father's Day and if that doesn't work then we make a nice meal at home. We grill out hamburgers the first warm day in spring. We celebrate the Lamb baptism birthdays. The list could go on with a little planning and creativity.
3. I had the idea to celebrate the birthdays of our parents and my sister even though they aren't here. My idea was to have a birthday cake or special dessert on their birthdays. Last year we had a steak dinner and birthday cake on my sister's birthday even though she wasn't here. We have corn on my dad's birthday because he loves corn. We haven't done this a whole lot, but I like that the Lambs will learn when our family has birthdays even though we can't celebrate together. It's fun to e-mail a photo to them of their birthday dinner too! It's fun to break up the daily routine with this, especially because all the Lambs have spring birthdays so we can have birthday cake in the fall in honor of the grandmas.
4. We try to call our family often, but we make sure to call them on holidays and birthdays. A phone call means a lot to them. The Lambs understand when their birthday is when we call them on their day after we have sent their present a long time before so they could get it in time for their birthday.
Do you have any traditions or ideas to celebrate the holidays?
Check back tomorrow for more tips about being a rural pastor's wife.