This one was originally written by Kristen, CEO and Founder of Stepmomming.com
Christmas Lights, Christmas Trees, and Christmas Carols: the holiday hits every sense at once. The sound of bells ringing and familiar tunes is literally music to my ears, the smell of vanilla cookies and evergreen takes me back to simpler times, and those beautiful twinkling lights in the night - those fill my hear with a joy I didn't know I'd been missing.
Despite the trials of shared parenting during the holidays, there's nothing quite like a blended family Christmas to warm this stepmom's heart.
So I'll admit, the scheduling sucks.
There is no mistaking that schedules in a blended family can be a HOT MESS. Coordinating Mom's family, Dad's family, Stepdad's family, and Stepmom's family... and twice that if any of those families are also split.
Coordinating celebrations with that many people is a logistical nightmare. Add into it the complex feelings associated with shared parenting, and you're looking at a recipe for hurt feelings, not enough time, too much wine, and a current/ex spouse caught in the middle.
But that feeling when you actually get the holiday custody schedule hammered out and you can commence the scheduling of your Christmas festivities? Incomparable. Like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders and you can breathe again.
There are two main reasons I'm crazy for blended family Christmas. The first is the undeniable fact the holiday has strong associations with joy and generosity.
The holiday and all of its scents, sounds, and sights bring back a flood of memories growing up. Picking out a tree, decorating the tree while listening and singing along to Christmas tunes, setting out the Nativity scene and Christmas village, and baking dozens of cookies alongside my mom. Choosing the perfect gifts and wrapping them, visiting my dad who lived too far away for frequent visits, drinking hot chocolate, attending candlelight Christmas Eve service, and staying up too late trying to catch Santa...
Those days were simpler. And I find such beauty in those memories.
We all got along. We were happier at Christmastime. We were more generous. We were a closer family.
I love Christmas. I always have.
Christmas brings people together.
The second reason I love blended family Christmas is because it makes my stepdaughter happier.
She transitions between festivities so seamlessly. She will celebrate with both sides of my family, her dad's family, her mom's family, and both sides of her stepdad's family. She will laugh, celebrate, and enjoy time with her entire extended family this holiday season.
She will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is loved. That even though her parents divorced, she is far from broken. Her heart will be filled with kindness, generosity, and love; for a season, she will see no darkness.
So I'll sing the carols and over-decorate.
Stepmomming is hard, for everyone involved.
If we can put aside some of the negative that inevitably comes with shared parenting and focus on peace, love, and joy for a month, isn't that actually the gift?
Don't sweat the schedule. Christmas doesn't have to be celebrated on December 25th at 6am; it just has to be celebrated surrounded by loved ones.
Don't overthink it. You don't need to schedule dozens of events including The Nutcracker, photos with Santa, ice skating, and a Christmas movie marathon. Be open to opportunities as they're presented and find confidence in the knowledge that your holiday season will be perfectly joyful and peaceful simply by being Christmastime.
Don't become a scrooge or a grinch. There is so much to be thankful for in this complicated, beautiful blended family world. Count your blessings and express gratitude. Don't focus on what's missing when there is so much present.
So, drink some eggnog, join in on a chorus of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," and bake some cookies for Santa. Savor the moments and find joy in this beautiful season.
It's okay if you become a crazy blended family Christmas lady with me. We have cookies.
Merry Christmas, mama!