Oh Holy Night, all is calm all is bright! Are you crazy?
“My step-dad told me we can’t open one gift on Christmas eve. That was our tradition when my mom and dad were still married…” (stepson age 7)
“What do you mean I can’t go to Amy’s house for New Year’s Eve? I do every year!! You’re not my mom!” (stepdaughter age 15)
A Better Holiday Season
Here are five ideas to keep ‘Oh Holy Night’ calm and bright to preserve joy over the holidays.
1. Remember whose birth/season you are celebrating. Keeping peace on earth starts with you! It’s still our responsibility to model what the season means to you. Are we demonstrating joy?
2.Honor holiday traditions that your stepkids bring. This is a great opportunity to share some of your own too. For us, decorating our first Christmas tree was brutal. The debate about how to hang tinsel and where to place the ornaments fueled the fire of “I don’t like change/ I don’t want change.” It’s ok to keep some of the old traditions. It may be time to create some new ones too. We asked each of our kids to suggest something they’d like to create a new tradition. As long as it was legal and not immoral (we had teenagers in the house) we agreed.
3. Reduce pressure of holiday schedules. Set a date and time for your holiday festivities. Having an “open house” day may work best. Invite your kids and step-kids to come when they are able and stay as long as they’d like. Your day doesn’t need to be on the day of the holiday. It will bring your kids great relief from having to run from house to house. For us, that means we get more time with them. And remember, blessed are the flexible, for they won’t snap.
4. The trade off each year where kids will be for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve, or New Year’s Day. Enjoy the time you have with them. Put your energy into loving who they are and don’t hold grudges over schedule chaos. If emotions are running crazy, chances are that they are just trying to make all of their parent’s happy showing up when asked.
5. Don’t forget about your marriage. Take time to check in with each other. Sometimes we’ll say “How’s your heart?” Between gift buying, school concerts, dinner parties, scheduling with your ex, budgeting for presents and getting the oil changed in your car, we can miss each other’s heart. Showing a united, calm marriage will benefit everyone!
Exemplify the Season
Keeping peace through the holidays starts with us. Living in peace and joy exemplifies the season. This time of year, our families get lost in the stepfamily forest. It’s easy to get caught up in the emotions of “how we used to do it.” When these emotional knots found us, it helped us to be open-minded and open-handed. We would ask each other, “what is best for our family?”
Take a deep breath and have a joy-filled holiday.