It’s that time again.
The hustle and bustle of the holidays.
We begin with a time to reflect and express gratitude of family and life’s blessings. Sharing moments together gathered in mama’s house reminiscing on the good times and recognizing the not so good times. Feasting on tasty foods that remind us of the days when life was so much simpler.
These days of thankfulness lead into “the most wonderful time of the year,” as the classic carol says. Snapping us into the reality that Christmas is not too far away and it’s time to decorate, shop, and prepare for the big day.
I remember when my older children were smaller and we would wake up on Christmas morning, open gifts as a family, enjoy our gifts, have breakfast and then drive to my parents. On the alternate year, we would go to their father’s parent’s home. It worked perfectly.
But now, our dynamic is much different.
I now only get some Thanksgivings and some Christmas’ with my older two children. Since their father and I are no longer together, we share holidays.
I remember the first Christmas I had without them. I cried for hours. To some, it’s just another day. But I love the look on my children’s faces on Christmas morning when they see that all of Santa’s cookies are gone and the carrots are half eaten. I look forward to the nudging out of my sleep at six in the morning because Santa left white footprints all through the hallway.
Children only believe for a time and I wanted to be able to enjoy as many of those Christmas’ as I could. Not being able to have those moments each year, has been hard for me to endure as they get older.
I am now married and have a three month old son and he also is in a relationship and has a son who is almost a year old. Our blended family is not perfect by no means. It’s still very difficult to handle things like birthdays and holidays.
I want our children to know that they are loved and that no matter where they are on the holidays, we are a family.
Over the past couple of years, I have had to learn how to handle the holidays as a blended family. I don’t claim to be an “expert,” but I am living it daily and the following tips have helped me get this whole family dynamic in order.
So how do I handle the holidays as a blended family:
- Be understanding. This was super important for me at first. I was only thinking about my own feelings and was not open to understanding their father’s feelings as well. I only cared about the fact that I would no longer get to spend that quality time with them on holidays, not considering that he probably feels the same way I do when I have them. They are also with me primarily and he only gets weekends and holidays. I had to learn to let go and be understanding to his emotions as their father.
- Realize it’s not about me. Yup, it’s not. It’s about our children. They love their father and they love me too. Right now, they are at the age where he’s the greatest hero alive and the time they get with him is heaven. I dare not take that away from then because I want them at home on Thanksgiving and Christmas. I can admit that I was being selfish at first. Once I recognized that it is only about our children, I was then able to let go a little easier.
- Make the days surrounding the holiday just as special. I started doing this after the first year of the alternating holidays. When it’s his year, I have a movie day after Thanksgiving with them. We sit and start binge watching Christmas movies to get in the spirit. We also go ahead and begin putting up the tree. Before Christmas, we have a countdown starting that week. I purchase Christmas movies or books and gift them one each day leading up to Christmas Eve. On Christmas Eve, we open my gifts for them together. When they return, they get the gifts that Santa left them. So making the surrounding days just as special, makes handling the holidays a bit easier.
- Try to include everyone. Now, I can honestly say this has NOT been easy for either of us. Now that their father and I have other significant others and children, trying to do things together is a bit tough. But we are growing into that. Their brother on their father’s side was born on Thanksgiving, so this year they will be celebrating both. We were invited to celebrate together because this is my year to have the children with me. Of course, I will be sure to take the children to spend time with their brother for his first birthday. If this was two years ago, it would be a much different story. But this ties in with number two as well. Since I recognize that it’s not about me, it’s no problem for me to take them to their gathering, even though it’s really my year. I appreciate that they, too, are open to us all doing things together when it is appropriate.
- Be open and honest with each other. This is vital for any blended family, whether it’s the holidays or not. Holding in festering issues or problems you may have with the other parents can often times affect the children involved, which is the last thing we want to happen. I was once that person. I would hold things in and then something their father would say when we were around each other would send me through the roof. That was not something I wanted to continue to affect me or possibly affect my children. Check those feelings at the front door. If you have an issue, it’s best to talk it out before it escalates into something more. I remember one Thanksgiving, their father was supposed to have them home by 8:00pm. He dropped them off a little after 8:45pm. I was already upset because my family came from out of town and they didn’t get to see the kids so as soon as his foot hit my front porch, I dug into him. I should have expressed how important it was for them to see my family and asked for him to drop them off sooner. I am sure he would have done that, but instead I held it in and took out my anger on him because he was late. Being open and honest with each other can prevent arguments and other things that could potentially have a negative impact on the children.
Now, no one is perfect. There are going to be moments where these transitions won’t go as smooth as others. Just remember that everything you do needs to be done with the best interest of the child(ren) as priority!
Do any of you have a blended family or come from one? How do you handle the holidays?