There is no door #4

Do you remember game shows that offered tantalizing prizes if you just picked the right door?

The contestants only ever had three choices: Door #1, Door #2, and Door #3.

Well, real life is a lot like that.

You only have three choices in any given situation.

Not five, or ten, or even zero, even though it feels that way sometimes.

Just. Three.

When you understand how these three simple choices work, they can provide a solid foundation for peace and contentment with your decisions.

Let’s highlight a common holiday dilemma and apply what I shall henceforth refer to as The Three Door Rule:

Many of you do all the planning, buying, cooking, and cleaning for your guests and just get plumb worn out. Your holiday spirit is fizzling faster than champagne left out overnight.

So, what are your options using The Three Door Rule?


Door #1: Change

Ask the question: What has to happen so I can change this situation?

Take some time to write down what does and doesn’t work currently, and decide on what you’d like to tweak or let go. Here are a couple of ideas to get you rolling.


Share the work

Have you ever thought about why your family comes to visit?

Hopefully, the answer is that they came to spend time with YOU, and the others, of course.

They don’t want a cookservant who comes and goes with their meals and acts as their maid, and if they do, shame on them.

However, if you have lovingly trained your family that you are SuperMom and can do everything alone, it’s time for shaping a new path. Write a letter or email, explaining how much you love having them come to visit, that you would love to have more time with them and would welcome their help. Make concrete suggestions about things they could do. Generally, family members are thrilled to help lighten the load.

I met a large family who did week-long reunions every five years. Mom & Dad set up the location, then each of their ten adult children (!) had an area of responsibility. For example, there was a meal chart that listed who was on cooking and clean-up each day, so no one was over-burdened, along with other organizational details.

They were our inn guests one year, and I never saw a happier group where the truism many hands make light work was practiced, from parents on down to children. The only ones who didn’t help? Mom & Dad. The kids wanted a turn at taking care of them for a change. Awwww.



One mom decided it was time to simplify and sent an email to her children. She said she would be going easy on the planning and the food. Her goal was to make as much as possible ahead and to keep it simple so they could spend more time enjoying one another. I can’t begin to convey to you how nervous she was about that email! However, after the holiday she raved about how amazing it was to have more time with the family, to be more rested, and to have spent less money and have far fewer leftovers.


Door #2-Leave

Ask the question: What has to happen so I can leave this situation?

Write down what your holiday celebration would look like if you were celebrating it for the first time. Would you get together with everyone? If so, what would that look like and where would it take place that’s different? Would you get away with just your hubby? Start brainstorming solutions about how to bring your idea to reality.

Our family did a traditional Thanksgiving for years at my grandparent’s home, and when it got to be too much for them, the celebration moved to my parent’s house. This year, though, my parents went on a cruise and enjoyed Thanksgiving and their wedding anniversary in a much warmer climate. Did the world stop spinning? To the contrary. My siblings and I were thrilled they took time for themselves.

You might have concerns about what people think and wonder if you are letting them down. In this case, you may end up making a different choice.


Door #3-Accept

Ask the question: What has to happen for me to accept this situation?

By the way, if you began to hyperventilate back at #1, at the thought of making changes, the hurt feelings they might cause, the waves they will create and all those other worries that bubble to the surface, this door is your only choice.

You must accept—with grace and goodwill—to have things remain just as they are.

That means you are not allowed to whine and complain about all those things you find annoying or irritating.

This choice is a perfectly commendable one, but understand it is an all or none deal: accept and be happy, or go back to Door #1 or Door #2.

Find a way to be grateful amidst the proverbial storm, and you will find peace here.


There you have it: A simple blueprint for decision making.

I encourage you to cultivate an atmosphere of gratitude, happiness, of togetherness, respect and appreciation for yourself and your family. This may take some time to build, but it will provide for much more joy in the long run. It will also help lead you to choosing the winning door every time!


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.  ~The Serenity Prayer, by Reinhold Niebuhr


Question: Which of these doors are you most likely to choose this season?


Sharing at NOBH, Better Mom, Soli De Gloria


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  1. So simple and clear-cut, Kim, and absolutely right on the money!! Great tips – of course implementing the right one is not always so easy, but we have to make the choice that fits our needs.

  2. Ooo, door #2 for sure. We’re thinking about planning a Disney vacation over Thanksgiving next year. Will the extended family be disappointed or happy for us? And does it matter as much as we fear it does? I always love stopping by here, Kim. Your posts make me smile. Happy December!
    Becky Kopitzke recently posted…Surviving December: Notes From a Type-A MomMy Profile

    • Your comment made me laugh out loud, Becky-you sounded like a game show contestant! :-)
      That vacation sounds like so much fun, and you raise interesting points you’ll be pondering. Thanks for your kind words. Your visits bring a smile to my face too!

  3. Very insightful post, Kim! I really like how you’ve narrowed the choices down to three doors. Love me some old time, Monty Hall! haha! And I’m going to use your “share the work” suggestion with my MIL. We visit her every Christmas and she always wants to do all the work. This time I’m going to talk to her ahead of time and see if I can change her mind! Thanks for all you do to help us, my friend!

    • Monty Hall. Heh.
      You have hit one that I think is difficult for a lot of women. We can have such a hard time agreeing to let others help us! I’ll be praying for your conversation, and hope you are able to get her to change her mind. You’ll all be able to spend more time together that way, and she’ll be more rested, too. You are very welcome, and thank you for the blessing you are in my life!

  4. This is good stuff, Kim! I like the three choices– and most often I either try to hit up door #1 or #3… I try to adapt the situation (if it’s God’s will for me) and other times I must accept it with open arms. (Sometimes by the grace of Jesus.)

    We are facing a year of change in early to mid 2013… Our first baby, a possible move to a new duty station and whatever else God has up His Holy sleeve. We are excited–and prayerful– about what is behind the doors of our life! Thanks for this great post!
    Sharita recently posted…Holiday Year in Review: 2012My Profile

    • Congrats on your little one on the way, and thank you so much for your hubby’s service. You have lots going on and I pray you find much joy behind those doors in 2013! Thanks so much for jumping into the conversation!

  5. I’m choosing ALL of those doors! In fact, this week I’m writing on Simplify and I’m doing a pretty good job of that here at home this year, especially with the decorations.

    As for asking for help, the Lord put me on my backside a couple of years ago and worked a big ugly chunk of pride out of my hear. I no longer have trouble asking for help, and he’s blessed me with two fabulous sisters who are more than willing to help!
    Susan recently posted…A Monday Pause ~ SimplifyMy Profile

    • Hooray for fabulous sisters who are willing to help!! Your concentration on Simplify is terrific and timely reminder to focus on what’s important. Thanks for that and for stopping by with your cheerful and encouraging self!

  6. I really how you cut out the clutter and made it clear in your post…so practical…it is good to remind ourselves, we can change, even if it is hard…we are making some changes this year…Always appreciate your insights, Kim :)
    Dolly recently posted…Alphabet of Thanks Series: Can an online "E"xperience give the whole picture?My Profile

    • Glad to hear you are intentionally making some changes in your life, Dolly. My experience has been that either I stay flexible and proactive towards change, or it will run me over and take me where I may not want to go. I always appreciate your visits!

  7. Stopping by from SITS and so glad I did! What a fantastic, helpful post! Definitely advice I needed today! :)

    • Welcome to my happy corner, and thanks so much for making the trip! I’m glad you found my post helpful. May it leave you with more peace today and in the future!

  8. Gratitude is such a great antidote to feeling down. I’ve had a tough couple of weeks, but whenever I think of all I have to be grateful for, I feel so much better immediately.
    Suzanne recently posted…In Pregnancy, Knowledge is PowerMy Profile

    • It is, isn’t it, Suzanne? Sometimes it can be pretty elusive, especially when we feel like we have to find gratitude for the darkness. I’m glad you found your way here, and thanks for sharing encouragement!

  9. I love it! So many times people want to…gasp…”change” a family gathering by doing something different or…by being absent.
    I love the options and ways to help bring one of those options to fruition!
    Lisa Graham recently posted…S.M.A.R.T. Goals & Living Beyond RichMy Profile

    • Gasp! Clutch at chest and wail at how you will destroy decades of tradition, “IS THAT WHAT YOU REALLY WANT TO DO?”. . .
      Oh, thanks for the laugh, Lisa. Yes, admitting that something doesn’t work anymore or that you’d like to change for something better can be met with real resistance. Glad you liked the options and I pray for a more joyful gathering for you!

  10. As always, great advice, Kim. I need to work on really teaching my kids to be grateful and I need to start with myself and my own actions!
    adrienne recently posted…Tips for Curing Blogger’s BlockMy Profile

    • Ah, yes, starting with yourself is a great place to be. As I remember, with embarrassment at times, children learn more from our actions than our words. Thanks for coming by!

  11. I love this. It is simple to make choices when you lay it out like this.
    Tracie recently posted…In Remembrance Of MeMy Profile

    • Hope you find it helpful as you make your decisions, especially this Christmas season, Tracie. Thanks for stopping by!

  12. I tend to go with door number one and simplify things. I have learned, much to the delight of my husband, that simpler really is better. A truth that I find translates well in just about all areas of my life :-)
    Marty recently posted…Training Children For WorshipMy Profile

    • Hmmm, your husband sounds like mine: “Hon, it doesn’t have to be this complicated.” He, too, is much more delighted when I go simpler because I’m not crazy overwhelmed. Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

  13. Very good suggestions; I loved your thoughts on this one. We have a family reunion every two years and each time one or two couples are assigned to plan the event. It really takes the load off of at least us, the parents.
    Christmas is a time to enjoy one another and I think we all should simplify.
    Blessings to you!

    • Hi LeAnn-always a delight to see you! Your reunion sounds like a great time, especially with the way you do planning. I can feel the weight lifting. :-) Blessings to you as well!

  14. Kim, great advice! So often, especially as women, we feel we must provide the perfect setting & live up to all of the cultural expectations established by the media & people we know. Some years ago we invited my husband’s family (parents, siblings, spouses, kids) to spend Thanksgiving with us. (I’m an only child, & my parents lived blocks away, so though they were there, they weren’t house guests.)
    I planned meticulously & had meals & supplies under control. What I wasn’t anticipating, however, was that some folks would arrive on Monday before T’giving & stay a week! Stragglers came in throughout the week, but there was a crescendo of the whole gang–24 people, 2 visiting dogs (large!), 1 visiting cat! (What are people thinking???!!) For this only child, that was quite a crew!
    People stayed up late, & there was the non-stop eating & snacking & making messes & mayhem that always occur with a large gathering. All of this would have been fine (& I really am still glad we did it), but it was the busiest possible time of the semester for me, & I needed to be grading essays & tests, yet there was never a second to do so because of the extended stay of several folks.
    By the time everyone left, I was exhausted & out of sorts. But the real corker was that this became a family tradition with everyone just assuming each year would bring an encore. As a result, I would start dreading Thanksgiving in June. Finally, my husband & I simply told folks we would not be hosting Thanksgiving. The world didn’t come to a screeching halt, but neither did anyone else pick up the family celebration.
    Hmmm….seems it’s okay to participate in such a tradition if other folks are responsible (for the work and the financial layout) but not to pick up the slack yourself.
    Glad I drew the line and now enjoy the holidays so much more! This year we went out to eat! The only downside was no leftovers.

    • Wow. Just. Wow. Sounds like you were a great hostess, Vivi! I am pretty flabbergasted that folks assumed that your first celebration would become the norm. I felt the relief when you told folks the party had come to an end. I do find it interesting no one else thought it important enough to pick up the baton. . .
      I am glad for you that your holiday has become less stressful, even without the leftovers. :-)

      Thanks so much for sharing your story. I hope other moms reading this will gather courage for making positive changes in their holiday celebrations!

  15. Good morning,
    I’m coming to you from No Ordinary Blog Hop and have been peeking around your site. I love this post (and the others I’ve read through too)

    In our current situation we have chosen to accept. Acceptance at has brought us great peace and grace as we wait on the Lord, knowing that He works all things out for our good.

    What are we accepting?

    A car accident that caught our house on fire resulting in us living in a camper until at least April. But it is all good because the one who is in control is faithful.

    Danielle recently posted…Festive Traditions Book Review & Give AwayMy Profile

    • Welcome Danielle! Your words are so sweet-thanks so much! Wow-your testimony is powerful, to be accepting of the accident and it’s aftermath. Oh, goodness. What a story of hope and letting go, Danielle. I pray your words minister to others who read this post!


  1. […] Although we still face regular temptation to snap at each other, we make a mindful choice every day of how to respond to bumps in the road. After all, we only have three choices in any situation: to accept, leave or change it. (For more on the applying the Three Door Rule, see here.) […]

  2. […]  There is no Door #4 […]

  3. […] If you disagree, be decent.  We were all created wonderfully different, so it stands to reason we won’t agree on lots of things. If you are listening to a someone speak and you hold different beliefs from them, please mind your manners. You aren’t going to change minds and hearts behaving like a catty teenage girl. Take what nuggets you can and gracefully leave the rest. Remember you only have three choices in life whenever you run into similar situations, because There is No Door #4. […]

  4. […] it came down to brass tacks, I only had three choices: leave it, change it, or live with […]

  5. […] the 3 Door Rule for more peace of mind in a […]

  6. […] To help you through that process, refer also to The Three Door Rule. […]

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