As Christmas approaches, are the words “peace on earth” more than a phrase? Do they describe your home, your neighborhood … the interactions you have with your mother- or daughter-in-law?
I asked friends and family how mothers- and daughters-in law could deepen their relationships during the hectic Christmas season. How could their mutual celebrations be marked with the peace and grace of the Christ Child?
Many of these women already have rich relationships with one another. But others do not. And what exactly is “peace” between generations of women anyway?
My friend Cindy said “peace” with her daughter-in-law at Christmastime is “to sit and talk and share and connect in person.” And Liz says it’s important to go into the holidays having a heart of service. Thinking, “What can I do for you?” and not, “What you can you do for me?”
Here are some helpful holiday do’s and don’ts for mothers- and daughters-in-laws. Carefully consider the “don’ts.” And then choose some of the do’s that meet the unique needs of your family.
… ignore Who Christmas is about.
… personalize choices that differ from your desires.
… give unsolicited advice.
… demean your mother- or daughter-in-law, especially in front of the grandkids.
… assume a role that is not yours to have. For example, don’t take authority that belongs to parents.
… have a “someone owes me” attitude.
… enter the holidays presuming what you want for a family Christmas gathering is what everyone else in the family wants.
… intrude on your in-laws’ plans—whether a daughter- or mother-in-law.
… clean your mother- or daughter-in-law’s kitchen or home without her permission.
… focus on your relationship with the Babe of Christmas.
… let go of expectations.
… leave room for spontaneity.
… have a cookie exchange with mothers, daughters, mother-in-laws, and daughter-in-laws. Include a long-distance mother- or daughter-in-law in the fun via Facebook or other virtual means.
… ask what your mother- or daughter-in-law wants for a Christmas gift.
… simplify gift-giving for all by drawing names for holiday gifts.
… begin some new family traditions with your daughter- or mother-in-law such as spending a day together Christmas shopping.
… take time to share a cup of hot coffee or tea and talk about holiday expectations. (Mail special teas or coffees to out of town in-laws.)
… ask, “How can I help?”
… include a multi-generational family photo in your holidays plans. Give advance notice of when and where it will be taken.
… participate in a service project together.
… share encouraging Bible verses via email or text during December. Choose ones that bring you God’s peace and remind you of the true meaning of the season.
… ask your mother- or daughter-in-law, “What Christmas traditions matter to you?”
… teach a favorite holiday recipe to each other.
… talk or text about Christmas celebrations you enjoyed as children.
… lend a hand with Christmas meal preparations.
… communicate and encourage honesty in what people want to do.
… if your mother- or daughter-in-law has a favorite beverage (i.e., peppermint tea, Dr. Pepper, coffee with real cream, etc.), be sure and offer it to her when you get together.
… on the day of your family Christmas celebration, bring out toys that were past presents from in-laws. Or, pull out an old toy from the attic that was once a favorite of a now grown son.
… include a few simple recipes for the family holiday meal. Doing this will make it easy for others to help with meal preparations.
… for out-of-town in-laws, put a welcome sign in front of your house.
… arrange for a special area where kids could play, color, do crafts, etc … to help mother- and daughter-in-laws truly visit.
… save some small tasks for someone who asks how they can help.
… look at photo albums together during the family Christmas gathering.
… make time to tell family stories. How did your daughter-in-law celebrate Christmas as a child? What did your mother-in-law do to make Christmas special for her son?
… generously give grace (undeserved kindness) to one another.
My friend Cindy and her long-distance daughter-in-law often text throughout the year. “But at Christmas,” she says, “we can be face to face. … We share spiritual things of encouragement, prayer requests, and just simple chit chat.”
In essence, they experience true peace. The peace offered by the Christ Child—the One Christmas is all about.
© 2020 by Mary May Larmoyeux. All rights reserved.
Adapted with permission from One-of-a-Kind Grandparent Connection by Mary May Larmoyeux. © 2019. Used with Permission.