The dreaded words came down, “The Hockey conference will start on Thanksgiving…and it requires 100% participation.  So if one of you can’t go, no one goes!”

What?
Really?
Why?

I felt threatened.  Forced to just say yes without thinking or considering my family values and traditions.  I looked around at the other parents who grew quiet, either looking at the ground or their hands. All of the looked saddened not only with the choice they were now forced make, but with the pressure of knowing if they were the one family that said “no” everyone else would hold them accountable.

Holding my mouth (a new skill I am learning to do) I said nothing.  But inside I wanted to stand on a chair and shout:  “Hello?  Don’t any of you want to stand up for your family?  And say NO to breaking up an annual family tradition?  Just say no!  Don’t feel pressure into doing this just because you don’t want to be the one who says your family time is more important.  Because family IS important.  Family IS #1.  Family only works when you invest time into making it work.  It’s not about anyone else but the values you instill and teach your kids.  I realize holidays can be celebrated anywhere as long as you are together.  But being in a hotel, on the road, with people you don’t know, in a restaurant, that’s not Thanksgiving to kids.  And that lack of commitment to making holidays and memories special to the family is what makes kids thrive.”

I’d probably stop talking by now, but think later that I should have added: “That annual memory, shared with people that love and support them, in the same location is what makes every holiday special.  Kids love knowing the same people come on the same day every year because it instills that they can depend on friends/family, they can depend on the fact that this holiday is precious every year, and that we as a family are committed to staying together.”

But no one spoke up.  And it was silent while a few parents raised their hands to say they were free to go.  Not me.  I just stood there.

Then I wondered, “Why is this Hockey event a Thurs-Sun making it a four day event instead of just Fri-Sun making it a three.  I’m sure every intact family would jump at the 3 day event.  So why can’t it be 3? Why does it have to be 4?  Doesn’t make sense that a commission of a league would willingly force families to choose.

Or maybe the person that started this League long ago did so because he or she didn’t have any family to celebrate with anymore or was separated or divorced from their family and instead of being alone on that holiday, put together an event so that if they had to be alone on a holiday, so did everyone else.

What also makes me sad is missing Thanksgiving with the friends/families we have come to adore and who have come to count on our home and our family being the place they know they will celebrate Thanksgiving.

Each year I do not even hesitate when a request comes in that another friend has no where to go.  “Invite them here!”  I say at least 3-4 times each year.  How incredible a feeling to both the giver and the receiver to feel wanted, welcome and included in a celebration!

For years I’ve been watching families stop their annual traditions and head off to satisfy sports needs of one child.  It’s made me feel so grateful my kids never participated in such a sport where my family had to decide between abandoning family/friends or keeping a child happy.  From what I  have seen, families are faced with two options:  1) The whole family goes (and the other siblings complain) or 2) Mom/Dad split up and divide the children.

Sure it would be best to have Mom and Dad together, but if the choice is to put one child’s needs first, then do what you may.  But know that these choices give way to chaos when you realize everyone in the hockey league is either separated or divorced.

Bottom Line:  Putting family first is never the wrong option.  Ever.  The wrong option is not standing up to anything that gets in the way of your endless desire to keep your family together.

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