1. Adjust Your Expectations
For newly blended families, it can be tempting to give in to the fantasy that your holidays together will look like the Brady Bunch Christmas special. When reality falls a bit short of the mark, deflated hopes can wreak havoc with even the merriest group of people. This can happen to any family of course, blended or not, but the stakes can be higher for those within blended families, especially those that are new. “Make your holiday expectations low and create an environment where children, no matter their age, can feel safe to express that holidays may be hard for them, especially if their step-family is new in the making,” says Mary T. Kelly, MA, a therapist and an expert on step-family relationships. “If appropriate, acknowledge that they are missing the parent they aren’t with and may be struggling with feelings of disloyalty. Make your holidays light and full of humour. We tend to take ourselves way too seriously and this, more than anything, can cause us the most suffering.”
2. Find Ways to Incorporate Past Traditions
A newly formed family doesn’t mean that couples need to start from scratch entirely when planning ways to celebrate the holidays, especially if there are ways of celebrating from the past that still bring joy and meaning to all involved. Jaqlynn, a mom of two, recalls the early days of celebrating the holidays with her then-six-year-old daughter and new husband: “We didn’t have the issue of splitting time during the holidays as some blended families do, as I have sole custody of my daughter. Still, it was important to me that as we began to celebrate the holidays as a new family of three, we kept our holiday traditions the same as they had been since my daughter was born. These were the things that were important to me that we kept the same.” Keeping traditions of the past can provide a sense of stability and familiarity for children in blended families, and as long as everyone is on board with them, they can bring just as much joy as they did before.
Celebrate the season with these 13 Funny Jokes for the Holidays.
3. Create New Traditions Together
Along with celebrating in some ways you used to, adding in some new traditions is a good way to step into this new chapter of family life together. Having a discussion ahead of time about what might be enjoyable for each family member is a great way to ensure buy-in and participation from everyone. Whether it’s cutting down a fresh Christmas tree or a white elephant gift exchange, beginning something new can truly be the start of enjoyable holidays for years to come. New traditions need not be fancy or expensive. Sometimes the simplest activities can be the most memorable. Find something that works for your own unique family.
Who says Christmas Eve can’t be spent binge watching classic holiday family movies?