Celebrating the holiday with your blended family
Christmas in particular is my favorite holiday, and it’s because of the kid in me and the joy of having kids around me. After my first marriage ended and Evelyn and I married, it became clear early on that to keep the peace there would be compromises. The “every-other-holiday rule” eventually morphed into a realization that Christmas Day would be celebrated on the day the kids found their way back to our home. We supplement the holiday season now with traditions like “Cookie Pallooza,” a weekend of making cookies to share with friends and the other parent as well.
It is really important to validate the other parent. Once the “War of the Roses” is over, there needs to be peace in the home. Validating the other parent is key in my book; these gestures are the “ties that bind.” They reinforce to the kids that if parents can get along, they are still loved. Today’s kids know the reality of divorce more than we realize, and the more normal we adults can make it the better. Heck, there will be plenty of graduations, soccer games, plays, funerals, more graduations, throw in a wedding or two, and you get my point. From the kids’ perspective, they want Mom and Dad—period. They will tolerate the significant others as long as it’s Mom and Dad first, which is not all that bad if you think about it.
Sometimes it’s appropriate for the significant other to step back and let the “nuclear” family be, without fear or jealousy, remembering it’s about the kids. Don’t get me wrong, I am speaking from my experience here, and I am no expert by far, just another guy trying to figure this all out.
On a few occasions, Evelyn and I decided to reach out and invite everyone from each family to our celebrations. It seems the barbeques worked the best, when there was plenty of room to walk about. We also did have a “blended” Thanksgiving dinner one year, and I must say it went well. If the discussions revolve around the kids (or pets) it seems that things roll smoothly. This single event helped to smooth the feathers for future gatherings of the kids’ celebrations.
There are issues to be considered, and there are plenty of suggestions online for how to pull this off. Here are a few tips from me: Don’t take the bait when comments are made; don’t forget to breathe; and before you make a comment, look into the eyes of your child—they will be looking into yours.
I will leave you with a quote from Mrs. Doubtfire: