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So how do you handle Christmas when there are different (secular) traditions/expectations? - Page 2

post #21 of 26

I thought Shaki's post left a lot of good stuff to think about. Can't add much to it, but did have a thought on the 3D movie... Why not make that an afternoon out for you/her, and a Daddy/baby day for your son? And then maybe Dad/baby could meet the two of you for lunch out all together, or a Daddy/daughter lunch, giving you one-on-one time with the little one.

 

When mine were dealing with the differences brought not only from the divorce, but then also the addition of a stepmom and kids, it was tough on my two. In a lot of ways, it still is. They've never really had any input into how the holiday is celebrated at their Dad's. So when they go, they feel like visitors.

post #22 of 26
Quote:
Originally Posted by PoppyMama View Post

In fact, I would gently suggest that since Christmas isn't a big thing for you guys and it is a big thing for her and her mom that you let her spend Christmas with the person who values Christmas and pick a different day to sub as your holiday.


This is what I was going to suggest as well. If Christmas is that big a deal to her Mom, I'm guessing Mom would be over the moon at the idea of keeping her for that holiday every year. And may be receptive to a really nice trade off giving you guys a different day that is more important to you guys during the year.

post #23 of 26

Except OP has stated that there are years Mom has to work on Christmas. So.... That may not be a viable solution.

post #24 of 26

One of the things I would think about doing is asking your stepdaughter what ideas she has to make the holidays more fun - with the exception of more presents. (Dad needs to be part of this convo, btw.) That you all celebrate differently than Mom, and you'd like her input on what traditions she might like to start at your home.

 

One thing I did notice... you say you do a lot of things earlier in the month because that is when they happen. Is SD there for them? Or are those tradition that she misses out on? You may not be able to duplicate some, but there may be reasonable facsimiles that you could do. i.e. Can't do the lighting of the tree, but perhaps can go see a big light display all together, bringing hot cocoa to drink and some cookies to munch on.

post #25 of 26
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtiger View Post

One of the things I would think about doing is asking your stepdaughter what ideas she has to make the holidays more fun - with the exception of more presents. (Dad needs to be part of this convo, btw.) That you all celebrate differently than Mom, and you'd like her input on what traditions she might like to start at your home.

 

One thing I did notice... you say you do a lot of things earlier in the month because that is when they happen. Is SD there for them? Or are those tradition that she misses out on? You may not be able to duplicate some, but there may be reasonable facsimiles that you could do. i.e. Can't do the lighting of the tree, but perhaps can go see a big light display all together, bringing hot cocoa to drink and some cookies to munch on.

 

Yes, my SD is there for them--the Nutcracker was a Dad-daughter thing last weekend. Right now, my husband and I don't do the big things without her unless they're adults-only or not at all of interest to her (i.e. the fundraiser for a garden group). That may change when both kids get older, and, say, there's something big for kids that my son wants to attend that my stepdaughter won't be able to (but, who knows--there's an 8-year age difference, and a 12-year-old may just be uninterested in the stuff a 4-year-old wants to do anyway).

 

We've asked about what she wants to do, but I like your phrasing better--what would make things more fun? It's more concrete.

 

Thanks again, everyone, and I hope you enjoy your holidays!

post #26 of 26
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaki View Post

I can speak about this from the perspective of the kid in this situation. OP I don't know if this will be of any help, but i though maybe sharing what it was like for me as a kid would give you some insight into your DSD's state of mind....and maybe help you to be patient with her.

 

My sister and I had very similar feelings to your DSD's when we were growing up. We loved Christmas (still do) and had many very special traditions that were handed down from my Mom's side of the family. When our parents divorced, our Dad was very insistent on his new traditions with his new wife. The message we got was that our feelings were not important, it didn't matter what our traditions were or what we wanted to do. I can imagine that for your DSD with a new baby thrown into the mix, which can increase feelings of jealousy and alienation, the sense that her traditions/feelings aren't important may be amplified.  I can see from this thread that you are trying to listen to your DSD and honor her feelings, that's wonderful; keep doing that. It may appear from her behavior that it doesn't make a difference, but it does--over the long term it makes a huge difference.

 

I agree with the PP's who said that if she wants to spend it with her mom, and you are cool with that, let her...I'd even go so far as to say let her do it even if you have some negative feelings about it. But it sounds like your situation is a little different because her mom can't always take her on Xmas. I don't think it's reasonable or realistic for you guys to recreate the same exact experience that she has with her mom, and there's no point in even trying.  I can remember saying things like "Well if we had a microwave, then I'd be more comfortable here," or whatever, knowing full well that microwaves (or any "stuff") wasn't going to fix the pain and confusion I felt over my parents divorce and my dad's new family. I think sometimes my parents just got the "stuff" because it was easier to do that than to really look at the pain my sister and I were in. And I just suggested the "stuff" because that was easier than trying to articulate what I was really feeling. I dunno I guess sometimes it felt like the adults would be asking me "what will fix this right now? what will make it so you never have these feelings again?" and the truth is there is nothing that can do that. So it's not really a valid question, there's no way to really answer it. So you say "more presents" or "microwave" because you have to answer something. For a kid these feelings can be really scary and hard to talk about. Add the emotionality and expectations of the holidays to the mix and you've got a massive cocktail of confusion. I notice that some folks have called your DSD spoiled, but I'd offer the perspective that Christmas has become a hard, melancholy time for her and presents are not the real issue. She's 8 years old and she's struggling, when you come up with ideas that she rejects don't take it personally, cut the kid some slack and just keep trying.

 

Another thing is that splitting a big holiday between two households is exhausting (from the kids perspective) I think sometimes the adults whose homes the holiday is being split between completely forget the sheer exhaustion (both emotional and physical) of it for the child traveling between the two houses--your step daughter could simply want to have a more relaxed holiday where she is not shuttled form place to place. I know I longed for that every year...and I wish I could have asked for it without my parents (both of them) taking it as a rejection of them.

 

I also really disliked having to celebrate Christmas not on the actual day, it felt fake and forced to me, so I can identify with your DSD's feelings on that.

 

Sounds like there's a magic to Christmas that she's remembering from when she was younger and she doesn't feel like that magic is being embraced in your home. You have admitted that Xmas is not a big thing to you and you don't want it to be for your DS, so it sounds like that's a pretty fair assessment. I guess the question is how can you honor your DSD's feelings and at the same time create new traditions that reflect the family you are building? This is something that will take years. If you can be patient and understanding of your DSD that will help.That doesn't mean that she gets to dictate all the terms, or that you need to jump through tons of hoops to please her, just that you guys (the grown ups) don't get all bent out of shape when she expresses dissatisfaction.

 

Be patient with her, be patient with yourself, just keep trying. Enjoy the good moments. It'll take years but it'll happen. My sister and I actually asked my dad and step mom if they would host our families for Xmas this year. 15 years ago I would have never thought that would be possible. If we can make it, so can you!!!

 

Hope this was of some help, and happy holidays!



Thanks for this...very helpful.

My husband and I are not very "magical" people, and it's hard to do it in a way that's not forced or mechanical. I'll keep that in mind.

 

My stepdaughter's here now, and she's actually in a good mood, so we'll see if any of this comes to fruition anyway.  She did request cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning breakfast, which I will gladly accommodate (even though our $%#!! oven's not working! Cripes!--yay for toaster ovens).  She requested "no ham I don't like the way it smells when it's cooking!" for Christmas Eve dinner, which I will not accommodate, because we have a ham in the fridge and people coming over (and, as I said...no working oven! yay for large crock pots).

 

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