Family

Celebrating Christmas with a blended family

Author: Canadian Living

Family

Celebrating Christmas with a blended family

Christmas with a blended family can be extraordinarily difficult. Old angers, resentments and conflicts can wreak havoc with carefully made plans. It takes time and tact to combine old traditions as you discover new ones. Have a family discussion about plans and expectations -- allow each family member to express their feelings. Try to compromise where you can. If you expect some disharmony, you will be better prepared to deal with it. Holidays can be trigger points for emotional outbursts; children grieve for a long time for the family, and the holiday, they used to have. Remember who is the grown-up. Be patient. Give extra hugs.

• If you can afford to, consider spending Christmas somewhere new this year. A place which has no family history for either part of your blended family is a better choice than one where either side has previously visited. Take lots of games and activities along.

• Ask your children which traditions they really want to bring to the new family and incorporate some of their ideas. While all children need the stability and comfort old traditions offer, children in blended families need them even more.

• Create some new traditions together -- ordering pizza on Christmas Eve, going skating or making a wreath with boughs and pinecones collected on a family walk might be fun ones to begin with.

• Spend the same amount on gifts for each child. Make sure that the number of gifts children receive are also as even as possible -- children are quick to spot unfairness.

• Talk to grandparents about gifts. Perhaps they could give a family gift rather than individual presents, or all of the children might get a small gift such as a cozy sweatshirt or a pair of pajamas.

• Clear your calendar as much as possible to make time for family. People will understand when you explain that your family has made a decision to spend more time at home together this year.



Excerpted from Gifts from the Heart: Simple Ways to Make Your Family's Christmas More Meaningful by Virginia Brucker. Copyright 2006 by Virginia Brucker. Book sales support cancer research. To date, over $98,500 has been raised for the Canadian Cancer Society. A newly revised and expanded edition of Gifts from the Heart is available at bookstores across Canada.

Page 1 of 2 -- Find nine more tips to keep your family happy this holiday on page 2

• If the two sets of children don't normally live together, try and find a bed for each or have all the kids camp out on sleeping bags in the family room. It's hard to be the kid who has to give up his or her bed, and it's hard to be the kid whose "visitor status" is made very apparent because he or she doesn't have one. Bunk beds and rollaway cots may help.

• If you hang stockings, make sure there is one for each child.

• If everyone will be biking or skating, borrow or rent some equipment for the children coming for the holiday.

• Help the children make or buy small gifts for each other.

• If you are going to be including a family letter in your cards this year, ask all of the children to contribute a paragraph to it. If you send a picture, choose a photo that has all of you in it.

• Make sure there are photos of both sets of children in your home. (Especially on the fridge.)

• If your children get along well, consider some joint gifts like board games. If you are just getting to know one another this year, find books or craft kits that will allow each child some private time during the holidays.

• Be sensitive when choosing Christmas movies the first year. Find funny ones neither set of children has seen before.

• If your "in-house" children are very young, sharing toys can be difficult. Help them decide ahead of time which toys they feel they can share. Find a box with a lid to put the other toys in and put the box away in their closet to keep safe until after the holiday.

Many of us bear the scars of divorced parents and difficult holidays ourselves. You have the opportunity to change that for your own children.

"You can't change your own past, but you can build a good past for someone else. That's not a bad way to repair the damage."

-- Andra Medea, author of Conflict Unraveled



Excerpted from Gifts from the Heart: Simple Ways to Make Your Family's Christmas More Meaningful by Virginia Brucker. Copyright 2006 by Virginia Brucker. Book sales support cancer research. To date, over $98,500 has been raised for the Canadian Cancer Society. A newly revised and expanded edition of Gifts from the Heart is available at bookstores across Canada.

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Celebrating Christmas with a blended family

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