Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Traditions - Part Three: New Families, New Compromises

I realise these are fairly self-indulgent posts, so if you're still reading, Wow. Thanks :-)

My first Christmas with the hubs was pretty challenging. It was his second Christmas since separating from his first wife, and their son was still only 5 years old. (That's now The Teenager, for those who follow me here.) We had to strike a pretty delicate balance and it started to look nasty at one point. But we worked out a system and that system shaped our family traditions for the next six years (til Little Boo came along).

Basically, Christmas Eve became our Christmas Day. My step-son would stay with us the night before (or more) and on Christmas Eve morning he would wake up to a tree full of gifts. We'd open our gifts from him, and then have a big dinner early that evening. Always steak on the BBQ. He'd go to his Mom's to wait for Santa, and hubs and I would do our gifts from each other Christmas morning, then head to his mother's for the family dinner. On alternate years my step-son came with us. (For the "off" years we do an extra trip to MIL's for an additional Christmas Day.) On Boxing Day he got to see what Santa had left at our place for him.

Pretty complicated stuff.

And then we were four!! This provided a whole new set of complications. Thank goodness the timing was such the Teenager was beyond Santa already. I just couldn't see how our old Christmas Eve traditions could work with a new wee one full of wonder and excitement for the magic of Santa.  As with most arrangements that  involve step-families, this took a lot of discussion and convincing. But we figured it out.

We still have the Teenager through Christmas Eve. We still have our now traditional BBQ steak dinner (with lobster tails now as well - we raise them with expensive tastes). The kids give each other one gift and then the Teen heads to his Mom's. Of course, this arrangement means he still misses out on our traditional Christmas breakfast - eggs benedict and Irish coffee.

This year he is with us for Christmas dinner at my Mother-in-Laws. When he wakes up on Boxing Day morning he will get his gifts. That means we have had to make sure to keep something back for Little Boo as well, so he doesn't feel left out. So, we have instituted "family gifts" that appear on Boxing Day. Last year it was Beatles Rock Band. This year it's a Wii system. And there'll be a couple of new "family movies" as well.

My Christmases now are vastly different from the Christmases of my childhood.  Not being surrounded by extended family makes a huge difference. Our focus is on our own family and staying closer to home. There's still great food and fun and fires in the fireplace and Christmas carols and movies. And we see friends, but not the insane schedule my parents kept in the 70s. The step-family angle definitely makes our celebrations more challenging, but after all these years, we've settled in to it and have come to a comfortable place.

However or whatever you are celebrating (or have celebrated!) this year, I wish you peace and joy and good health! And great food and a couple (at least) of fabulous beverages :-)

Merry Merry!


  1. I love hearing about all your different Christmas traditions! It has made me think about mine as well :)

    Merry Christmas Deb!

  2. Merry Christmas to you too! And thanks :-)
    I hope yours is fabulous and Lily has the time of her life!!


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