Home for the Holidays, Part 3

Last week on The Allender Center Podcast, Dan and Becky Allender discussed their experiences of welcoming guests into their home. This week, as we continue our series about all of the complexity of the holidays, Dan is joined by his daughter-in-law Sassy to talk about the other side of that interaction: how to hold and offer goodness when you are a guest entering someone else’s home.

Dan: “Every time you come into someone’s home, there are issues involved.”

Dan and Sassy reminisce about the first time she came to Seattle to visit the Allenders for the holidays, when she lived up to her nickname by criticizing Dan’s driving. Dan recalls a feeling of relief at her playful bluntness. “I knew we were going to get along well,” he says.

Sassy: “We hit it off from the start, but I think it’s just because we both really enjoy talking. I felt that it was very easy to get along. I remember going to bed that night being like, ‘Wow, this is just a really beautiful place to be.’ And I could understand and get a deeper picture of Andrew by experiencing where he grew up and how he was raised.”

After traveling extensively, living in Ethiopia, and working with young children as a Montessori educator, Sassy has grown adept at reading dynamics and adapting to new cultures.

Dan: “You have a certain remarkable adaptability, without losing the refinement and beauty of who you are. That’s a gift. I think there are a lot of people who can get along, but they lose themselves. Or they don’t lose themselves, but they don’t get along.”

Sassy: “I always fall back on observation, and really observing before stepping in, taking in what I’m seeing and processing that. And then coming in with the idea that we’re all gonna do it different. We’re not the same, and that’s the beauty of it—that we’re not the same, that we all are different. And how are we going to work together?”


In Sassy’s work with young children, she has learned that meaningful education requires building the trust of the parents and engaging in ongoing communication. “Same with families,” she says. “You have to build a level of communication, trust, and love in order for it to work.”

Dan tells the story of an embarrassing moment involving early morning Wii Tennis and spilled candle wax, when Sassy walked into the room and treated him with such kindness and good humor. (That story itself, by the way, is worth a listen.)

Dan: “That is part of the dilemma: It isn’t a stratagem of how to go home, it is the character of the person who goes home. […] There are so many small ways we see one another’s character.”

Sassy: “Families are complicated. Humans are complex, and you’re not just dealing with your partner at this point, you’re dealing with the complexities of an entire family unit that stems from generations, and traditions, and many things that are passed down. So things aren’t always gonna go smooth, and there’s gonna be complications, and you’re not always going to see eye-to-eye with every single person, your in-laws, your spouse’s family, or your own family. There’s gonna be complications and conflicts, but it’s that resolution and how you work through it that I think makes it stronger. Being able to lay down that foundation for communication and trust and love, and know that you can always go back to it—that’s what makes it so important. Because it is, it’s sticky stuff.”

Dan: “Why would we be on this earth, why would we be engaged in any real activity, other than to say that if there’s a joint commitment to love—to love each other and to be loved by each other—love creates a context where it covers a multitude of failures. And when that’s the case, it is good. It is good.”