What Happens When You Opt-Out of Family Expectations?

We live where we grew up. Then over the past 5 years my family all moved to another state. For some reason the law of less seemed to apply for all holidays. There are less in my family so we felt obliged to take time off from work, pack up the car, and travel. We traveled for all major holidays. Sometimes we did the 6+ hour round trip in a single day just to attend a birthday party. Last Christmas my husband had to work on Christmas day starting at 6am. For close to a month, I tried to plan the annual trip to visit my family. There were phone calls made and texts sent with little effort to return.

Then finally I made the executive decision to opt-out. We opted out on packing up the car. We opted out on travel. We opted out of the hustle and bustle. We opted out of leaving our home. I opted out on having to meal prep all my meals in advance of leaving. I opted out on not being able to watch my favorite Christmas movie at least once. I opted out on dealing with my crazy family.

Instead we opted in for more family snuggles on the couch with our furbaby. We opted in for spending time driving or walking around at night looking at the Christmas lights in local towns. We opted in for watching our favorite Christmas movies. We opted in for relaxing when everyone around us was busy. I opted in for making my husband and his coworkers Christmas day lunch.

Truthfully my family is still mad at me and isn’t speaking to me. We never even received a single Christmas card despite the fact that we sent a family Christmas present for everyone to enjoy. We never got invited for Easter.

Will we opt out again this Christmas? Absolutely!

Recently I came across the Parents episode of The Minimalists and found these MinimalMaxims helpful.

  • “Family is not determined simply by bloodlines.”
  • “Sometimes the best way to love someone is from a distance.”
  • “You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you.”
  • “You can’t care for others until you first care for yourself.”
  • “No matter how close to perfect you believe to be, you will always be judged.”
  • “You don’t have to be mean to be honest.”
  • “Most gift horses have tooth decay.”

If today is a hard day for you because of it being a holiday (United States Easter), then check out the podcast. Do something for yourself. Do something for a stranger. Do something for a friend. Opt in for self compassion.

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