eggs on a basket

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Avoiding holiday frustration can be quite challenging. This is a topic that continues to pop up in conversations with other empty nest women. It seems that many women aren’t open to changing things up when it comes to holiday traditions. Of course, the end result is usually frustration! And I am always surprised by their lack of insight.


Family traditions are wonderful and play an important role in connecting with one another. These traditions often revolve around the location, food, a person or perhaps all three. Sometimes traditions have been held so long that family members don’t even know why, they just know this how its always been.

The funny thing about traditions is that they can be both comforting and confining. Families grow and change but traditions often do not. This is where the challenge begins.

Closed Mindset

I learned a valuable lesson many years ago after moving out of state. The lesson was that I was not going to be able to fulfill my family’s expectations to come home for every holiday. Proximity played a major role. We simply lived too far away for frequent visits. In addition, my family was not interested in coming to me to celebrate. My parents had a “closed” mindset and wouldn’t budge on doing things a little different.

The result was that Robby and I began our own holiday traditions and visited our family when we could. This was always a source of frustration for my mom. She just couldn’t see that her expectations were causing her frustration; not my lack of compliance.

Open Mindset

Now that I am an empty nester with one daughter living close by and one living in another state, holiday traditions for us are open to change. The end goal for Robby and me is TIME with our children and grandchildren. We are committed to being flexible with dates, times and even what the gathering looks like.

For example, this Easter, I went to Savannah for an overnight visit with our daughter, the week before Easter. I came bearing gifts, food and wine. I helped with some chores and cooked dinner for my daughter. We had a wonderful time “breaking bread” together and catching up.

Several days later Robby and I attended our Church’s Easter Service on Saturday night with our (local) daughter and grands. Afterwards, we had dinner at a restaurant and simply enjoyed “being together”. This plan left Easter Sunday open for my daughter and grands to visit with her in-laws. It was a win-win for everyone.

I could have insisted on a traditional gathering at my home for Sunday lunch. The problem is that the only people attending would have been me and Robby. Flexibility and being open to a more creative solution, gave us time with those we love most! I fondly named this year’s Easter gatherings “The Two States of Easter”! (One in South Carolina and one in Georgia)

Final Thoughts

Life happens in seasons and each season is different. If you want to avoid holiday frustration, then your holiday/family traditions must be open to change as well. Being inflexible will only produce stress and resentment in your family. Here are my tips for planning a frustration free holiday:

  • Ask for input from your family – find out what they want to do.
  • Be flexible with dates and times.
  • Location doesn’t really matter.
  • Don’t put unrealistic expectations on your adult children.

Always “build” your house – don’t tear it down with inflexibility!


  1. You’re so right! I have 5 kids with their significant others and the joy of my holidays is getting to see them all, someday, some way. That looks very unconventional- and unconventional has become our tradition 😁. Maybe the key isn’t having to be together on the holidays- but making a holiday out of each time we’re together. This is the one area in my life where flexibility comes naturally, oddly enough. God is working on it in every other area.

    1. OOOH! I love how you defined the unconventional and making a holiday out of each time you’re together. It’s amazing what God will do when we are OPEN! Many blessings to you! Leigh

  2. Great post, Leigh. “Traditions” are what I’m wondering about as I prepare to move to Portugal. Because I will have to stay in PT for six consecutive months for my Residency Visa, I will be celebrating Christmas and my birthday without my family and friends. New traditions will begin with new friends…and we’ll have yet another Zoom family Christmas 😁

    1. Ooh Hot Goddess that will be a major transition. I am so glad that you already have your expectations set for something new and different. I imagine your new friends will celebrate you well! Thank goodness for Zoom and FaceTime that at least let’s us see and talk to our loved ones from a distance. We have done a few of those as well. Thanks for your support and wishing you a great weekend!💕

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