This year I’m really looking forward to the holidays. Probably because it’s the first time in several years that there isn’t division in the family. Holidays can be stressful due to crazy family dynamics for just about anyone, but it seems it’s also a time where the blended family struggles.
From schedules that are ever-changing and rifts that may have ensued, holidays can be anything but merry.
While I can’t fix family issues, I can offer some ideas that have worked for our family if you find there’s a bit of dread this holiday season:
- Start new traditions. When two families join and become one, not all of your familiar traditions will survive. Some will be missed, others not; but use this as a time to make new traditions, ones that will be special to your blended family. This can be tricky if your schedule is like ours where holidays alternate. But maybe there are things that your family can do no matter what day the celebration may lie. For our family, that means we have been doing the Turkey Trot at Thanksgiving for several years, because we always have the kids at our house Thanksgiving morning. For Christmas, we are still working on our traditions, but make sure that all the kids are included in putting up the tree, filling out the Christmas cards, and making the Grandparent gifts. We are also working to find one more traditional activity that we can do as a family whether our time falls on Christmas Eve or Day.
- Go Smaller. For awhile our Christmas celebrations were smaller than usual. Divorce doesn’t always mean everyone in your family also wants to separate. This can lead to tensions or divisions with extended family. Drama doesn’t mix well with holiday cheer, so keep your celebrations focused on smaller groups where you won’t feel that tension. We have spent our last few Christmases in just this manner. If that reduces anxiety or tension, go small! It may mean your holiday wins big!
- Have patience. In some circumstances you just need time to pass. Blended families take time to meld, they are crock-pot meals, not microwave entrees. A book I once read said it takes about seven years for a blended family to gel and feel right. This can sometimes include extended family members as well. Don’t make a scene… don’t get uptight… just be patient. Time has a way of healing hearts, especially during the holidays. Practice these steps and have patience and eventually things may find a way of working themselves out. Three years later, things are settling in our extended family and the season is looking brighter than ever.
Whatever your family may be experiencing, keep the drama out of the holidays and everyone will have a Merrier Christmas!