It’s time to let out a big sigh of relief. The holidays are over! Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE Christmas, and we celebrate the birth of Jesus. But as a blended family, this time of year is just extra crazy! Now that we are a little bit past the crazy, I have had time to breathe and process a bit. So, here’s a recap of our Holiday Happenings.
We celebrate Christmas no less than 6 times each year. And that’s just family celebrations!! Add in work celebrations and church activities, and you can see that we really do love to celebrate Christmas!! One thing that I think works well for us is that our Christmas schedule with the kids’ visitation is the same year to year. This was our third Christmas season as a blended family, so some of it felt a little more routine. Having the same schedule makes it easier to plan family events. We celebrate with DJ’s family the week before Christmas. Then, my aunt hosts a Christmas Eve party for my dad’s side of the family. This is a tradition that goes back many years, as my grandfather always had a Christmas Eve party, and I appreciate that she has continued that tradition. DJ used this celebration as an excuse to FINALLY get the chocolate fountain he’s been wanting. 🙂
Christmas morning is just the four of us, with my two children. We don’t really do the whole Santa thing in our house. If they choose to believe, that’s fine, but we don’t do anything to give that belief any teeth. We do talk about the birth of Jesus and why we celebrate that. We had a lot of conversations this year about being grateful and trying to find ways to give back to our community.
DJ’s kids come Christmas afternoon, and the rest of Christmas Day feels like a whirlwind! Presents at our house, including secret Santa presents between the kids. That’s fun to watch as they try to figure out who their secret Santa was. Then it’s off to my parents’ house for Christmas dinner and more presents. We celebrate with DJ’s family again after Christmas, so that his kids get included as well.
We spend the week after Christmas trying to make memories with the kids. This year, we did a lot of baking with the bakery leading up to Christmas. We had planned to get a lot of activities marked off of our to-do list at home the week after Christmas, but many of them were outdoor activities and the weather did not cooperate with us. We usually do a road cleanup activity, but that did not happen this year, so we will try to find a weekend to do that soon.
Another activity we had planned to do the week after Christmas and just never quite got around to was making gingerbread houses. I remember making them as a child, usually with graham crackers, if I remember correctly, and this was something I wanted to try to do as a family. We ended up doing this project one Sunday on January instead…and it was a disaster!! Between arguing amongst one of the teams, and collapsing houses, it just didn’t go as planned. But overall, despite the disagreements, the kids seemed to enjoy it.
Adjusting to holidays as a blended family takes time. You all have expectations and a way of doing things when you come into this new family, and someone is bound to be disappointed. One big win for us this year was not once did we hear anyone ask to go home. To be honest, we heard that last year. On Christmas Day. Within hours of picking up the children. Talk about a punch to the gut. Here we are, doing everything we can to make Christmas be a memorable experience and WHAM, someone says “can we go home?” It’s painful. It’s gut wrenching. It’s understandable.
Wait, what did she just say? Yes, I said it’s understandable. Can you imagine being a young child, waking up to Christmas morning at your house, opening up all these cool new presents, and just as you sit down to play with your new favorite toy, it’s time to be whisked off to another home for a week? If you’re in a high conflict co-parenting situation, you probably don’t allow much to be shared amongst the two houses, so let’s say for the sake of argument that none of these toys are allowed to go to the other home. Imagine opening presents at your second home, and while you like your new gifts, you really just wanted to play with that new gadget at your other home. So you ask to go home. The child isn’t trying to hurt your feelings, but your feelings are hurt anyway. Perhaps this brings up feelings of inadequacy, or jealousy. Maybe you just weren’t in a position to be able to buy as much. Whatever the reason, I want to encourage you to try to remember that this is hard for your children too. Try to be understanding, and remind them how much you look forward to spending time and making memories with them. Focus on the positive things. (This is as much a reminder to myself as it is a word of encouragement for you.) It takes time for everyone to adjust to this new normal. It’s not going to be the same for every family, so don’t judge success or failure by how other families are faring in comparison. Keep your thoughts, prayers and actions focused on supporting YOUR family.
Now, it’s time for us to start making plans for spring break… Our kids have two different spring break schedules, so this is going to be interesting! Oh, the joys of different school districts! How did your family survive the holidays? Did you thrive, or were you just trying to keep your head above water?