It’s holiday season!
I love Christmas. I don’t care much for the nonstop Christmas carols, movies or presents under the tree. For me, it’s all about the food and being together with my family. And if it was all up to me and the kids were a few years older I would allocate all the Christmas present money (and birthday cash for that matter) to experiences instead of Christmas presents.
When looking back on my own childhood, it’s not the presents I remember. It’s the places we visited, the things we saw and did as a family that I’ll never forget.
The stuff is not what I want. Because that’s what it is. Just stuff. The stuff is what accumulates in life and takes up space and often creates a stressful and cluttered environment. I want the memories, the pictures and the stories.
Until they get older, we’ll stick to what we do every year for Christmas.
We wake up early in the morning, throw on our housecoats and open presents around the Christmas tree. Then it’s time to get the turkey out, prepped and oven ready before the rest of the family shows up with more Christmas presents. As the house is overflowing with wrapping paper I’m anxiously waiting to get things going in the kitchen and glancing at my watch to determine when it’s an okay time to open up the wine.
Christmas for me is all about wining and dining.
This year marks our 5th Christmas as a blended family and I must be getting sentimental ‘cause I’m really going to miss how we’ve spent our last 4 Christmases together.
We won’t have our traditional family Christmas this year. It has nothing to do with a ‘crazy’ ex - because she isn’t - or access schedules that determine that this is not our year. Christmas is shared equally between our two households. It all comes down to my husband’s work schedule and for the first time in many, many years he’s going to be overseas during Christmas.
It’s been a long time coming and I’ve had months to prepare for the definitive “yes, this is really happening” conversation. It’s all good. And a total let down. But it’s okay. It has also shown me why having our own Christmas traditions has been fundamental to becoming the blended family we are today.
It’s something to look forward to
Kids eyes start sparkling months before Christmas morning while they wonder what Santa is going to leave under the Christmas tree. And not just one Christmas tree. Santa will have to visit mommy’s and daddy’s homes!
Christmas is also the time when the entire family comes together. In our house, all the cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents spend the night. After dinner, the kids are set up with a movie in the tree fort with their cousins while the grown-ups kick back and relax.
Traditions help cement you as a blended family
This is especially helpful when your blended family is still fresh and new! Each family member will bring their own Christmas traditions and expectations to the table. It will take time and patience to create ‘your’ holiday. But you will get there with time. Incorporating their established traditions with a few of your own will help you move forward as one family.
Your story, your memories
Creating your own holiday traditions helps create the narrative of your blended family’s story. These traditions are now part of your memories which you only share with your husband, stepchildren and other family members. And these memories will last a lifetime.
(Christmas) traditions encourages family time together
We live in a fast-paced world, the kids are growing up quickly and my stepchildren are hitting those teenage years. Before we know it they will be out the door doing their own thing. The traditions we make as a blended family encourages us to be together and share special moments with one and another.
Creating a new tradition is fun
Traditions are here for a lifetime, they get passed down generation to generation. We love the idea of this but, as a stepmom, I’ve learned that nothing stays the same. What my stepchildren used to do when their parents were together isn’t exactly the same as it is now. (obviously…)
Starting new traditions is fun. As a stepparent, you can be as creative as you want. Traditions aren’t just for holidays, they’re small everyday gestures, like sitting down for dinner as a family. Sure, major traditional changes can be an emotional experience for your stepkids. And I emphasize, CAN BE. Not every kid will cry or throw a tantrum, but some might. On the other side of the equation, there are the kids who are totally open to new ideas, like my stepchildren.