Navigating Christmas with Infertile Couples
Christmas gatherings are beginning. For an infertile couple, this season can be very difficult to navigate. It’s typically easy to avoid certain familial settings during day-to-day life until holidays arise. Then the reality of their situation becomes painfully obvious again.
Pregnant women receive all of the, “Baby’s first Christmas” gifts. Little nieces and nephews have dozens of toys from their grandparents under the tree. Baking, tobogganing, and other fun family events are planned with the grandkids. All of these are beautiful, cherished memories which should be enjoyed. But the infertile couple hears about them and grieves because they don’t have children growing up with their siblings’ kids, and feel like they’re missing out on all the fun.
It’s hard being family to an infertile couple. It’s like you can’t win. They have a hard time hearing of any family fun, yet they’re offended if you avoid talking about it and they hear from other people. Everyone “walks on egg shells” and awkwardly tries to create other conversations afraid of discussing anything about their children/grandchildren.
This doesn’t make Christmas easy. So, what can you do to include this couple without making everything awkward?
Depending on the couple, some would love the opportunity to join in with the kids and make gingerbread houses or go skating. Others would prefer not to. The best thing is to let them know in advance of the activities you plan to do with the rest of the family and let them choose if/what they’d like to participate in. Sometimes having advanced notice is what they need most because it gives them time to prepare themselves and change perspectives/attitudes to embrace the activity.
If you’re planning events for the kids, why not make a special date for you and the infertile couple as well? A fun games night, hike in the snow, or theatre performance would be a nice opportunity for them to get out of the house and think about other things for a day. It’ll give them something to look forward to around the holidays.
Some families only give gifts to the grandkids because it gets too expensive buying for everyone. Could you consider getting at least one or two gifts for this couple as well? It would help ease their hearts and distract them while all of the kids open their gifts. Again, it doesn’t need to be awkward. As grandparents, you can even make light of it saying all of your family allotted money goes to each child’s family. Since the siblings have children, their allotted portion goes to them, and the infertile couple gets to enjoy the allotted portion themselves.
As siblings to the infertile couple, have a chat with them about what they feel comfortable being involved with. Having open conversations are the best. For example, do your children have Christmas concerts or plays they’ll be in? Ask the couple if they’d like to attend. If they say, “yes,” that’s great! Have a good time! If they say, “no thanks,” don’t be offended. It isn’t because they don’t want to see your dear Susie in a sweet little lamb costume. It’s just hard for them to realize they might never experience this for their own children.
Make Christmas fun! The more you try to dance around the subject, the more awkward Christmas will be for everyone. If they need to step away from something, or a tear or two falls, that’s okay. Let it happen. It’s their way of processing. Love them, hug them, and then when they’re ready, get back to enjoying the day.
Instead of sitting around and watching the kids/grandkids play with their new toys all day, do activities the whole family can participate in. Have a nerf gun fight, play Pictionary, and watch a funny Christmas classic movie like, the Grinch or Christmas Vacation.
We’re not supposed to be the center of attention at Christmas anyways. It’s about the most miraculous birth and greatest gift ever given to man – Jesus Christ. He is the reason we’re all alive. He has given us the gift of salvation. Let’s make that the most important focus and conversation this holiday. As Jesus is pure joy, have fun and celebrate the amazing lives we’ve all been given and the blessing of community because of it.
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