I don’t know any parents who aren’t a bit frazzled this time of year. Gifts to buy, parties to attend, family to visit. Now let’s take those yearly to-do’s and multiply them by 5. That’s what the holidays feel like in our blended family.
Now a lot of that craziness is my own fault. I work full time and rarely save enough vacation days to take off enough time to ease the holiday rush. Instead, I run errands on my lunch hour, or place orders online (one gift always arrives late). Plus, I don’t even think about shopping or decorating until after Thanksgiving. I’m a “one holiday at a time” kind of girl.
Okay, so we’ve established my workload and procrastination issues. Put those in the blender. Then add the fact that in most marriages the wife does 99% of the Christmas planning/shopping/cooking/decorating. Yep, that’s us too. So far though, everything in our blender is pretty soft & easy to puree.
Now for the hard and chunky stuff. The other families! While this is “our year” to have all the kids for Christmas, it’s rarely as simple as that. Everyone’s juggling schedules and if the only time our 15 year old can go see his grandmother is on one of “our” days, well of course we’ll let him go. Oh wait, you mean that was the day we were supposed to do our family outing? No problem, we’ll move it to the next weekend. Oh wait, that’s the weekend our 8 year old leaves with her mother for a ski trip. No problem, we’ll do our family outing on Christmas Eve. Oh wait, I have to work a half day that day and we’ve already made plans to celebrate with the grandparents that night. Um… things are getting chunky.
The key here… flexibility. Christmas is important to every single one of us, ex-wife-in-laws included. We all want picture perfect, but we’ve all got to realize that picture perfect is only found in pictures. Our family “day” may only be a family “couple of hours” and that’s okay.
One thing I’m doing is trying to create a couple of fun traditions that we can do no matter what. Like having all of us wear crazy Christmas socks when we open our gifts. Doesn’t matter if it’s Christmas Eve, Day, or 3 days later. It’s a simple tradition we can stick to.
And I’m letting go of things that make me crazy… like sending outrageously creative Pinterest-inspired Christmas cards. This year you’ll be lucky to get a card at all. And it’s coming out of a box. Perhaps next year we’ll get creative again, but only if we can get our whole gang in one spot at one time. With our oldest in college 8 hours away the only way that’s going to happen is if we take pictures in the summer. And that’s okay too.
So turn on the blender and start the countdown to Christmas. Don’t worry about the chunky stuff. Just add more chocolate and know that it’s gonna be good no matter what.
And of course, remind yourself frequently that Christmas is about celebrating the gift of Jesus given to us. Peace. Love. Joy. It’s already ours. Merry Christmas!
(archived from Dec. 19, 2013)