Christmas. Some love it, some hate it. It’s supposed to be a happy family get together, with everyone exchanging gifts, and eating and drinking too much. But what exactly does that mean for a blended family? What is a family when you have several mums and dads and even more grandparents? Where do the kids spend Xmas? And how do you survive the holidays when they are not around? Here’s how our family handles it.
We decided a few years ago to install our own rituals. This year, Christmas will be celebrated on December 20th, and once again on December 23rd.
Our kids are usually not around on Christmas Eve, so my husband and I get away for a couple of days, just the two of us, celebrating his birthday, that’s also on December 24th. We enjoy time off without our bunch of 5 because we know they are happy celebrating with their other family. All kids are usually around on New year’s eve, although 3 of them prefer to go out partying with friends. And they should!
Who cares what day you celebrate? Any day will do in our family. For example, every 2 weeks on Friday evening, when the oldest ones get back from college, we all have dinner together at our place to catch up on stories. Last Sunday, when Maarten got back from his 4 month study trip abroad, we held a cosy family dinner at our place, including his mum. Over the past months, we had several get togethers with him and several parts of our family through Skype. Yesterday, when my son Maxime received the results of this season’s exams, we celebrated with pizza in an Italian restaurant. Present: his mum (me), his dad (my ex-husband), his grandma on dad’s side, his sister and Jo’s youngest son. When the little ones were younger, they sometimes stayed with their other parent whenever we couldn’t find a babysitter. And during Summer, half brothers or sisters regularly come over to play at our house.
Next year, for Caro’s 10th birthday, we’ll celebrate with the whole extended family, including all ex-spouses and ex mothers/fathers in law. Don’t forget it’s not easy for grandparents to handle the emotions of blended families. They always think about the kids first and they love to catch up with each other as well, but you need to create moments so they can. OK, I admit it has not always been that easy to have a good relationships with the other mums and dads, but it’s essential that kids see their parents can still get along despite a divorce. It might take some years before you get there, but the least you can do is try to make everyone feel welcome. Remember it’s not about your ego.
Family is what you make it, no matter what blood ties. Have a great Xmas, on whatever day you plan to have it. And make sure to celebrate many other moments throughout 2015!