Holidays seem to get a bad reputation as a time of stress and anxiety, especially if you’re the one hosting the gathering. It could be because we try to hold on to old traditions or that we feel that everything needs to be perfect. But holidays don’t have to be stressful if you keep the focus on what they should be about, celebrating and spending time with family and friends. Stay tuned at the end of the blog for some tips and tricks I use to stay sane when having people over for a large get together.
Both Gaby and I are extremely lucky to have close-knit families, making holidays like Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving special. We don’t often get to see everyone in a big group setting, so when we do, we like to make the most of it, with lots of food, drink, and frivolities.
When it comes to Easter, Gaby and I grew up with similar religious backgrounds, but with different traditions. Gaby grew up Catholic, so Easter weekend for him meant multiple church services and a somber Good Friday abstaining from meat. The customary Tetrault Good Friday supper consisted of homemade baked beans, macaroni casserole, and “pain à graisse”, a delicious deep fried dough, smothered in butter. (Being our first Good Friday back in Manitoba, we were very sad to have missed out on this traditional meal!)
Though I grew up in a Christian background (my mom was Mennonite and my dad, Catholic), my family didn’t start attending church regularly until I was in my late teens. This meant that for us, Easter was celebrated in a more contemporary manner. My mom loved to orchestrate a large treasure hunt, with plenty of chocolate and a few small trinkets to find. By far, though, the best part of Easter when we were young was going to Memere and Pepere’s (for him), or Grandma’s (for me) to play with all our cousins and see our aunts and uncles.
New Family, New Traditions
This Easter was the first we could spend with my family since my dad’s remarriage last May. This melding of two families meant that Gaby and I, along with my sister, Lee Ann and her husband, Tom had a whole new clan to make merry with – my stepmom, Sheryl, my new grandma, Bonny, and a new sibling, my stepbrother David and his beautiful wife Devon. (My brother, Nick and his girlfriend, Tash were unable to make it due to prior commitments.)
It was a fantastic day, and the weather could not have been more perfect. The kids got to hunt for treasures in the backyard, and the afternoon was spent eating nibbly-bits, sitting outside, and visiting while the kids played. Supper was a feast, with everyone bringing a little something to share. The turkey that Gaby prepared the day before was put in the oven in the early afternoon to slowly roast, and was cooked to perfection by dinner time. (Check out photos of the big bird on our social media sites by clicking the links on the right.) We visited late into the evening and were sorry when it was time for everyone to leave (especially the kids, as that meant it was bedtime for them!). We’re already looking forward to the next get together, and hoping we won’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to see them all again.
We hope that you all had a wonderful Easter weekend, whether it was spent in multiple church services, in a get together with family or friends, hunting for treasures with your kids, or celebrating with other traditions.
Christine’s Tips for Keeping Your Sanity During the Holidays
1. Don’t stress about how clean the house is. Honestly, no one is going to notice the dust bunnies under the couch. If you’re a bit of a clean freak like I am, you can make sure everything is picked up for your own sake, but don’t worry about deep cleaning before everyone arrives. Most everyone who comes over is coming to enjoy family time with you and your kin.
2. Keep chocolate to a minimum for the kiddos. It’s a lot easier to keep your sanity if your kids aren’t bouncing off the walls with sugar induced hyperactivity. We prefer to give small trinkets for our kids to play with (books, Lego, etc.) as opposed to enormous amounts of empty calories.
3. Things will never be as perfect as you see on Pinterest. Seriously, those photos of impeccable decorations, amazing crafts, and intricate desserts took hours to create, and a lot of Photoshopping to perfect. Don’t worry about everything being flawless, just make the time together memorable.
4. Old traditions or new? Hanging on to old traditions is a great way to keep memories alive, but if arguments over which traditions to keep and which to disregard make life stressful, let go of the old traditions and make new ones together.
5. Prepare what you can ahead of time. I can’t stress this one enough. Doing what you can a day or two before the big event will make your time together so much more relaxed, as you won’t be thinking about what you should be doing, instead of sitting and visiting with someone you haven’t seen in months.
6. Plan a potluck. If everyone who’s coming plans to bring something to share at the meal, it will negate you working in the kitchen for the entire gathering (and it will also lighten the load on the pocket book, especially if your family gathering is a large one!).
7. Make your own family. Some people don’t have the luxury of a large family, one that they’re close with, or even live nearby. If you’re unable to be with yours on holidays, make your own gathering by inviting over friends and neighbors to celebrate with you.
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