Black Friday-Part 2 in the Holiday Survival Kit
24 Dec 2017
We hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving, and are enjoying the Holiday Season! Welcome back from your first family holiday. I am writing this as I reflect back on some head scratching, and frustrating behaviors that we have experienced over the years. While these are specific stories, I do think you will start to say, “oh, YES! We have had that happen as well!”…and hopefully this will help you “plug” along and not let disruptive behavior by others “unplug the lights” on your holiday gatherings.
We typically spend Thanksgiving with my husband’s parents being that this is often the main time each year we all get to spend time with them being that they live out of town. It is a nice tradition with pie making contests, trips to the shooting range, and just a chance to reconnect and make some memories. The grandparents are always very happy to make these memories and accommodating to make sure as many of the grandkids “desires” are met to make memories. We have gone to Calloway Gardens, gone to visit lamas, made opening night of the new “Hunger Games” movie, and yes….even braved BLACK FRIDAY. You must be asking where is Lisa going with this?????
A few years ago our daughter begged (as many middle school young ladies do), to have us all go Black Friday shopping. Being that we visit a small town, none of us were sure it would be worth the massive lines, elbows flying, and late night, but we all thought it would be a good chance to bond, catch the flu, and maybe even get some Christmas shopping done. So….we went for it. And I will say, we were all having a great attitude. Then all of the sudden it is like we have the other family shopping with us. Yes, it happens…they were sending multiple pictures and videos of them standing at the mall back home, walking up the stairs at the mall back home…you get my drift. Yes, we had entered a Black Friday attention competition we never entered. Now, as a young teen, my daughter is being polite to respond to the other family, and this becomes disruptive to our annual time together. Needless to say, our family was scratching our heads at the disruptive and ill-mannered behavior. So what did we do?
We practiced GOOD example setting. We were polite and politely nudged our kids to refocus on our time together, ensuring to them that the other family would (we would hope!) be understanding that we are having family time and would like to focus on that. At this point you have to not say too much, but be quickly polite and quietly disapproving-then you live your example.
The reason this makes me giggle is because those disruptions can come in seemingly the most obvious (to adults and yet not to kids) ways. Yes, it is most likely being done on purpose as a means to redirect the kids’ focus from a nice time with you. Literally this year, Black Friday struck again. The kids had brought a –yes!-black kitten to the other home about a month before Thanksgiving. It was named Friday….it was literally a black Friday, and I have to say, form the pictures I saw, she was a real cutie. This same cutie was also brought to the pound, by her other family, on Black Friday. We were all together on our Thanksgiving trip and our kids get multiple messages, etc letting them know Friday had been dropped off at the pound. Needless to say, this “shock” campaign felt timed to be disruptive, as the kids were legitimately upset and it then became the main topic of conversation.
Here’s the deal: if the other family chooses to try to start fires with your ‘Christmas light spirit’, just reroute the lights. Do not let people burn your house down, or cause you to unplug your joy. Trust me, the kids will get it eventually, and you will live be example…like offering a set of lights to your kids by showing them day in and day out that you won’t try to dim the lights at their other home when they aren’t with you.
How does this work practically? Often, we encourage our kids to focus on the family time they are having when NOT with us. We do not text or call for no important reason during known family times, we do not facetime during meal hours, or on a holiday unless we have checked in with them first, we do not call when we know there is a birthday celebration to which they should be attentive. We DO tell then to have fun and we actively let them know we will not be bothering them during family time, but we do let them know we are thinking about them. Something this simple can really set a mature and giving tone: “You all have a great time! We can’t wait to see you soon, but don’t worry about us! Have fun and we will try not to bother you while you spend time with family. But we are here if you need anything! Love, love!” Living by example, and setting a great one of contrast, will over time create an internal light of trust they have in you to do the right thing.
Hang in there, it happens to a lot of us, and in this case, slow and steady and bright will “win the race” and help your family shine brighter.