More talk on Holiday Schedules... - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 27 Old 09-29-2008, 12:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Anyone else notice the once amazingly fun and wonderful holidays turn into stress and uncomfortableness for blended families? Is there light at the end of this tunnel???

I love Christmas! We had a lot of really great family traditions when I was growing up and many still happen, and I always envisioned the traditions I wanted to keep for my family...

Then I became a blended family... and things are going to get tricky.


As it is now, DH and his ex share Christmas day, supposed to switch at noon, rotating every other year who has DSD in the morning... this is the court ordered custody schedule.

Last year we had her Christmas Eve to Christmas morning, so this year we are supposed to get her at noon...

I brought up to DH last night... what happens in two years when Kallie is old enough to know what presents are, and how in the world are we supposed to make a 2 year old sit and stare at presents all morning waiting for her sister to get there?


I proposed an idea... to change our Christmas date for our family... let DSD's Mom have her every year for the full day of Christmas, we pick her up Christmas night, and that becomes our Christmas Eve, and the day after Christmas, the kids can wake up like it's Christmas morning, together.

DH vetoed it right off... said what if he ever wants to take DSD to Christmas Eve service with us, and his ex likely wouldn't allow it as we would get her Christmas night...

His idea was to let our DD open one present that we know is a good one and that will occupy her long enough til her sister gets there...


This idea KILLS me... we'd have totally different traditions every other year... and I can't imagine telling my 2 year old to wait several hours and that being a particularly fun morning for us.


Any other famlies blended with young children? What do you do? What are your thoughts on this?

Family traditions are very important to me... but I don't think I could ever get DH to give up anytime on Christmas day, even with creating the day after like Christmas... who cares about the date really?

I know some will say I'm nuts for worrying this far in the future... but well... I guess this is what pregnant Mamas do. lol

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#2 of 27 Old 09-29-2008, 12:52 PM
 
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I can totaly relate to your feeling

My bf at the moment does not have any holiday time with his child unless it falls on his weekend. I think we just got to deal with the hand we are dealt or keep on being persistant for change
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#3 of 27 Old 09-29-2008, 01:02 PM
 
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I'm not sure how other people do it, but in my family, we did this: With my dad we had Christmas Eve as Christmas Day, and spent Christmas Day with my mom, and then alternated for the next year. It worked for us. And I would say let your daughter have Christmas with her sibling until she is old enough to know the difference, and then give her the choice.

I can tell you what hurts my kids too. At their father's the kids that live there get double the gifts. Gifts when everyone is together and other gifts for Chistmas morning. This hurts my kids, because they know the difference, they're not stupid. With our child, my DH and I intend to treat them all equally. While the baby is too young to know the difference, we'll have Christmas when they're all home. When the baby is older, we'll probably alternate like we did when I was a kid, but we'll have to play it by ear and figure out what works best for us as a family. I can tell you one thing, we won't be treating any one child as more important than the other.

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#4 of 27 Old 09-29-2008, 01:13 PM
 
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I feel you. Matt and I gave up Christmas to our ex's. It was way more important to me that our kids have the same traditions year after year than it was to have a certain day. As it stands we have Christmas Eve from 4:00-10:00 pm (my mom's family celebrates then and neither of our ex's did anything with extended family on Christmas Eve anyway) We have to have the kdis back to thier other parent's by 10:00 for bedtime and then they do the whole Santa thing/Christmas morning with them. Madison's mom has her for the full day but Maia and Sage do get to come with us at 6:00 pm to my dad's family's annual game night.

For Matt and I, we wanted the kids to be able to have the same traditions year after year and if that means giving up Christmas Morning (and Easter too) then so be it. We also decided that Santa is not coming to our house at all Since he will be going to their other houses we decided it was not necessary. Plus that way Matt and I can take credit for all of the gifts without sharing with the fat man :

We attend a Unitarian Universalist Church and our Winter Holiday Service is held the Sunday before Christmas (we celebrate Christian Christmas, Haunkkah, Solstice, Kawanza, Festival of lights, and many more at our church) so we just make sure that we are able to have the kids that Sunday even if it is not our regular day. The ex's were pretty agreeable to giving up the Sunday in order to get Christmas.

As for Christmas Eve Service, Does your church do an early service? Like a 4:00 or a 6:00? Would his ex give you Every Chirstmas Eve from like 4:00-9:00 if in turn she knew she would get every Christmas morning and day?
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#5 of 27 Old 09-29-2008, 01:21 PM
 
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Two is still young for the whole christmas deal. In my experience it is at age 3 that it starts to be really fun for kids. 2 is cute but they don't know what to expect.

It seems like you have a lot of grief over being in a blended family. The loss of some of the "firsts" and then not having complete control over your family is an adjustment for sure.

I've been there and done that from the other side. It's crazymaking. At a certain point, you have to accept that things aren't all within your control and make the best of it that you can. The less freaked out we are, the less freaked out the kids are. If Kallie is raised with it it is just normal.

I would look for a tradition that can tie everything together. Maybe a fantastic brunch right before DSD leaves/after she arrives. That way, you can have that as a familar thing every year.

Anyway, I know the grief is real and intensified by pregnancy. Some counseling might be a good thing if it continues for an extended period of time.
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#6 of 27 Old 09-29-2008, 01:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We attend a Unitarian Universalist Church and our Winter Holiday Service is held the Sunday before Christmas (we celebrate Christian Christmas, Haunkkah, Solstice, Kawanza, Festival of lights, and many more at our church) so we just make sure that we are able to have the kids that Sunday even if it is not our regular day. The ex's were pretty agreeable to giving up the Sunday in order to get Christmas.

As for Christmas Eve Service, Does your church do an early service? Like a 4:00 or a 6:00? Would his ex give you Every Chirstmas Eve from like 4:00-9:00 if in turn she knew she would get every Christmas morning and day?

OOoo! I have to look into this! We actually do not attend a church now... I consider myself a Universalist, as I really identify with their principles and values. I found a church I'd like to check out, but DH has been working most weekends lately and we have not gotten a chance to go yet. But I wonder if our UU church does something similiarly... if so then that solves his Christmas Eve service dilema.


As for no Santa... I don't know... I like the magic fairy tale of it. lol And DD has no other home to go to... she is an "ours". But I don't want to create some tradition for her, and not have her sister (my DSD) be a part of it... DSD is a part of our family and as a PP said, I work very hard to keep an equal household. The kids will not be treated differently.


Another thought I'm spinning, is to make it so it is a normal tradition to not open presents first thing in the morning... to do a big breakfast, and if DSD misses the breakfast every other year, I could live with that... but then it is already precedent that DD grows up with that breakfast is first, regardless if DSD is with us that year or not... then we can all open presents together in the afternoon... I am sure my parents would be coming over at that point as well...


I don't know... I'm just so afraid of losing Christmas morning magic... That has been such a special time all my life...

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#7 of 27 Old 09-29-2008, 02:32 PM
 
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We, too, want consistency from year to year so we can have consistent holiday traditions, so we have his kids on Christmas Eve and then take them to his ex on Christmas morning. To us it seemed easier on everyone rather than having the constantly changing schedules from year to year.
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#8 of 27 Old 09-29-2008, 02:57 PM
 
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OOoo! I have to look into this! We actually do not attend a church now... I consider myself a Universalist, as I really identify with their principles and values. I found a church I'd like to check out, but DH has been working most weekends lately and we have not gotten a chance to go yet. But I wonder if our UU church does something similiarly... if so then that solves his Christmas Eve service dilema.


As for no Santa... I don't know... I like the magic fairy tale of it. lol And DD has no other home to go to... she is an "ours". But I don't want to create some tradition for her, and not have her sister (my DSD) be a part of it... DSD is a part of our family and as a PP said, I work very hard to keep an equal household. The kids will not be treated differently.


..
We talk about having a baby, have not decided yet What if Santa brought a few gifts for Kallie to your house and it was explained to DSD that her gifts from Santa were left at her moms? Then they both get their gifts from you and dh together? Wouldn't have to really make things uneven because when DSD still believes, this would make sense and when she is older she would either understand or you could point out that you still spend the smae amount of money on them both but that Kallie is still little enough to need the magic of Santa.

We love the UU church, it is great for our kids and our family. Ours is pretty small and the fact that we only go every other weekend is no big deal, we don't feel outof the loop or anything. In fact, dh and I have just started teaching Religious Education once a month, pre-school for me and Elem. age for him. I encourage you to check it out, I love that our girls are being exposed to so many beliefs and different families.
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#9 of 27 Old 09-30-2008, 03:53 AM
 
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#10 of 27 Old 10-01-2008, 12:36 AM
 
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Well, I'm sorry to tell you that it doesn't get any better for the kids when they become adults...I have THREE families to see every. single. holiday. (my dad, my mom, and my husband's parents/family). The Christmas holiday makes me want to run away to aruba or some other equally far place. I LOVE CHRISTMAS!! Except...it's not any fun. We run from place to place, don't get to visit with anybody for any good length of time, and my kids are TIRED at the end, too!

Even with my mom spending the night and waking up for christmas morning with my kids, that means two places on Christmas Eve, and both places happen to start their party at the same time. *sigh* so it means TWO dinners, and staying up VERY late for the kids, so crankier christmas day.

Honestly, we seriously talked about just TELLING everybody we were going to be gone last year. But we didn't.

Sorry to be such a gloom and doomer...but no, I don't think it EVER gets better. The people inconvenienced change...but it doesn't ever really get better. They are just one person, the kids involved, and they can only be in one place at a time, and nobody feels as if they get enough time with them. It's a really stinky part about blending families...not enough of a person to go around!

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#11 of 27 Old 10-01-2008, 02:35 AM
 
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yeah, i used to bounce around every Christmas, but we had a lot of extended family in the area, like 6 aunts and uncles, so it was an adventure for us, and we always looked forward to it.

traditions are wonderful, i agree, they give your family history. but maybe you can find a way to make new, special traditions for your family? GL
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#12 of 27 Old 10-01-2008, 10:29 AM
 
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My dad is Jewish and my mom isn't, so the holidays weren't terribly difficult, only Thanksgiving.

Now that I'm 30 (and it's been 21 years since the divorce and my father re-marrying) my parents are friends. We actually all have Thanksgiving together.

My mom, dad, stepmom, paternal grandma (who hated my mom when she was married to my dad but loves her now, LOL) and anyone else who joins us.

I think it's amazing. I love that we're all together and it shows DD that we're a totally cohesive unit.

I don't really get along with SM but still. There is def. light at the end of the tunnel!
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#13 of 27 Old 10-01-2008, 11:06 AM
 
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We have holiday exchange on the 26th, so that DSD can have a full day with each parent every other year. Of course, we have always allowed her mother to pick DSD up at 12pm on Christmas Day to be generous. We are not doing that this year because she has never returned the kindness, and we will have a lot of family in town to share Christmas dinner with this year.

As for traditions, we have done that Santa goes to whichever house DSD is at on Christmas morning. We do Santa and family gifts. So if she isn't here for Santa, she opens her family gifts. With the other girls, we will open Santa gifts first thing in the morning, but we will wait for DSD to open family gifts altogether. This means that sometimes family gifts were not opened until the 26th. The girls are fine with it because #1 they get Santa gifts to occupy them and #2 they do not know anything different.

It does sound like you are having a difficult time giving up your ideals when it comes to a blended family. Unfortunately, this situation does not lend itself to the traditional events, but that does not mean what you end up doing can not be as special or even more special. This is your chance to redefine things for your family. The first step for you, though, is letting go of the ideal. Once you can do that, wonderful things will open up for you.

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#14 of 27 Old 10-01-2008, 12:24 PM
 
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I proposed an idea... to change our Christmas date for our family... let DSD's Mom have her every year for the full day of Christmas, we pick her up Christmas night, and that becomes our Christmas Eve, and the day after Christmas, the kids can wake up like it's Christmas morning, together.
We do something like this. We pick DSD up on the night of the 23rd, Santa comes the morning of Christmas Eve, we do Christmas Eve things with DF's family, then DSD goes to her mom's around 8 or so on Christmas Eve.

This allows the kids to wake up together for Santa-related things, and DSD's mom is okay with it because she has DSD on the actual Christmas morning. We also get "holiday time" over the 1st, because we travel to jump in a frozen lake for the Polar Bear Club and celebrate Christmas with my mom and stepdad.

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#15 of 27 Old 10-01-2008, 12:56 PM
 
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Believe it or not we spent holidays together when I was growing up. My Dad came over to my mom's house and we did the family thing. Now neither one of them had remarried until much later so if there was a step parent involved it probably wouldn't have worked. I did appreciate as a kid not having to be carted around. I remember it being a tad awkward between them, but I still have happy memories of those holidays.
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#16 of 27 Old 10-01-2008, 07:28 PM
 
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Luckily for us, dh's ex always has a big T'sgiving celebration, and celebrates Christmas on Christmas eve. So we let her have the kids for T'sgiving, and we get them on Christmas morning. Except this year, when dh, dd and I fly to the west coast for Christmas, so they'll get to be with their mom this time around.
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#17 of 27 Old 10-01-2008, 09:26 PM
 
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Ah, the holiday threads.

We are ok. I'm sure there is a schedule in "the agreement" that was signed 11 years ago, but dsd spent only one early Christmas morning over here from the night before as far as I remember. I always wished she could be here, but ... let's just say peace is worth it, right?

We would always go pick her up bright and early, as soon as we woke up, and bring gifts and coffee for the mom, siblings and stepdad. Then get back to our place and open gifts, she'd stay here for the day.

I think it's a great idea to find something that you could do regardless of whether or not she's waking up there or just getting there at 12. I like Cassiopia's outlook on things... Make traditions that fit your family situation, and enjoy life, be careful to get wrapped up in trying to hard. I think when we are happy and light-hearted, the kids take it in, vs. us being stressed over holidays not working out the way we hope they would. It will be ok, it will be magical just because YOU want to make it magical for the kids. It will work out *HUGS*







Just make the best of what the life deals to you. Kids will love knowing that you are thinking about this.

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#18 of 27 Old 10-02-2008, 05:36 PM
 
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In my family, growing up, the stockings were opened up first thing in the morning (a bunch of little stuff, of course) but the bigger gifts didn't get opened until after the extended family had arrived and everyone had eaten breakfast.

I think we have Dec 26th to Jan 2nd this year. something like that. We have no possible way of doing the same thing every year, because we have a long-distance, every other year schedule.

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#19 of 27 Old 10-03-2008, 01:30 PM
 
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We've always alternated the Christmas holiday every other year, and the holiday included the 2 days before and after christmas. So one year she would be with us from at least the morning of Dec 23 until the morning of Dec 28, and the next year she would be with mom for those days. Because of that, we celebrate Christmas (the whole shebang) on a date that is convenient for our family... either the weekend before, or I have taken a couple days off the week before, or whatever works. So, for example, Chmas eve will be on Dec 21 and Chmas morning will be Dec 22.

This year we live farther away and my stepdaughter is in school, so it will be a little different. She will come here on the 26th... depending on what time the flight is, we will schedule Chmas eve and Chmas an evening and morning soon after her arrival. Because our kids are so young, they won't know the difference. My step-daughter has always believed that Santa goes to one house on one date and the other house on another because he knows when she will be where.

When they are older, and depending on where Christmas falls in the schedule, we may do the Christmas stuff with the younger set of kids on the actual day of and then again when their sister arrives... I guess it depends on their opinion on the whole thing when that time comes.

I think to not make yourself crazy, you just have to decide what your priority is and find a way to make that happen. If you really want the sisters to always open presents together, either change the date you celebrate Christmas or find a way to get little sister happily through the morning until her sister arrives. It is unlikely to be the family Christmas tradition you intended to have back when you were dreaming of being a mama, but that, unfortunately, goes with this territory. I wouldn't give up my husband or my step-daughter in order to celebrate my dream Christmas every year, so I have to find a way to make it beautiful and magical just the way it is.

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#20 of 27 Old 10-03-2008, 02:19 PM
 
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I have had the same concerns as the OP-my dd is 18 monts old. We split Christmas-one of us gets Christmas Eve night-noon on Christmas day, then the other gets Christmas day overnight, then switch the next year. This is our year for the 25th to the 26th. Since our dd is still young, I will plan on waiting until dsd gets here to do the big present thing. However, if dd wants to rip into the presents, I will probably let her, though I will hide some for later if that is the case! When she gets older, I will probably let her decide what she wants to do, or I will just hide some presents for later on anyway so that she doesn't have to just sit and watch while dsd opens presents later in the day. I figure that dsd gets to do the whole Christmas morning thing at mom's house, so it's not really fair to make my dd miss out on that every other year. However, I haven't had this discussion with my dp, so I don't know what he plans on doing! Good luck with what you decide-and try not to stress out about it! In all likelyhood you have a couple of years before you dd even notices the actual presents, although in all honesty I worry about the same thing too even though dd could care less at this point!

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#21 of 27 Old 10-13-2008, 01:33 PM
 
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I am just at the beginning of this journey, we are headed to mediation tomorrow. I have a couple of ideas that might be helpful, though

I'm thinking that you could switch back and forth every year, having Christmas Eve at your place one year, Christmas day (say, after 10 am) at his, vice versa. You and ex could go in on one special "Santa" gift together, and whoever has Christmas am would be Santa. You could take plenty of pics for each other. In other words, use the beautiful secret of Santa to your advantage so that your child can have the magic, and neither of you really gets "credit" for the gift. Then the child could bring that one special Santa gift to the other parent's house to show the other parent.

so many roads to ease my soul...

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#22 of 27 Old 10-14-2008, 10:53 PM
 
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I can't give any really insightful information as a parent, my daughter's daddy hasn't asked to have her at all during the holidays so it hasn't been an issue.

BUT, my husband and I both have split families, grew up with them and so I have a lot of experience from the kids side of things.

I have: 1 full sister (3 years younter) 1 mom, 1 ex-step-mom that I'm close to, her daughter with my dad (my half sister, 16 years younger), my dad, and my dad's fiance.

He has: 1 mom, one step dad, 1 dad, one step mom, 1 sister.

We just started the holiday conversations this weekend when I woke up one morning suddenly obsessed.

My memories of childhood, are those of my holidays either being with one or the other, when they lived in different states, or being dissected by the hour it seemed, for years my Christmas eve was with my mom's family, then around midnight we would drive to my dad's house to have christmas morning with him. When I was in college it got even stranger because I was literally dividing holidays 3 ways, between my mom, step mom, and dad. My sister dreads the holidays so much that she got married right before them as an excuse to take trips with her husband every year for the holidays, she has no desire to be a part of it. I am still trying to coordinate plans though because i have my 3yo daughter and new baby on the way...I think it's important.

My husband though, his family has been doing it in a way better than any that I have ever heard, that makes more sense to me than any of the trivial 'i don't want to admit we were together' awkwardness that occurs with exes sometimes. THEY ALL GET TOGETHER EVERY YEAR. It blew my mind, but believe me am I relieved that they keep it that simple. I won't do it this year but at some point if my ex puts some effort into being in our lives again that is how I would handle it, inviting him to join us (if he would do that).

So, if possible, I would recommend that. I wish my parents did that, especially because my mom was single and alone when we left it was the most painful thing ever to have to leave either one of them during the holidays. I recommend sucking it up and joining forces as much as possible.

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#23 of 27 Old 10-15-2008, 08:34 AM
 
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My husband though, his family has been doing it in a way better than any that I have ever heard, that makes more sense to me than any of the trivial 'i don't want to admit we were together' awkwardness that occurs with exes sometimes. THEY ALL GET TOGETHER EVERY YEAR. It blew my mind, but believe me am I relieved that they keep it that simple. I won't do it this year but at some point if my ex puts some effort into being in our lives again that is how I would handle it, inviting him to join us (if he would do that).
That might be great for the child, and even a willing sacrifice for the parents, but please recognize that new partners of the parents may well be absolutely opposed. In fact, the idea that single dads, if they aren't actively battling their exes over the holidays, are still trying to replicate the old family unit for the child then (and at birthdays, often) is a major reason I don't date single dads (even though I'm a single mom*). My daughter and I have sweet family traditions and a home of our own. Conceivably we might someday invite an adult man to join us in these traditions - and to possibly compromise a little. But "compromise" should mean "ham as well as turkey for dinner," NOT "leave our home and go be with his ex-wife's family all day for Christmas," yikes!

*Note that I'm an entirely solo mom. I don't have any ex drama of my own, so I'm especially reluctant to date someone with an ex attached - not fair to me OR my daughter. Single moms in joint custody situations arguably might be willing to sacrifice more, although I suspect their lives are complicated enough at holidays, trading kids back and forth, without adding yet another holiday location - their new partner's ex-wife's house - into the mix.

Sorry if this sounds selfish, but I think there's a consequence to "giving children [of divorce] the holiday image of everyone as one happy extended family," namely, you might well preclude that child's parents meaningfully re-partnering.

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#24 of 27 Old 10-15-2008, 09:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Yeah... for us to all get together during Christmas... that just wouldn't work.

I am not horribly opposed to the idea, and I think DSD would get a kick out of it... but what about our parents? This would become a logistical nightmare really...

DSD's Mom has her Mom, her sister's family, her Dad and StepMom, and then her fiancee's parents to see during the holidays.

For us, we have my parents, and my DH's Mom and StepDad, and his Dad... there are also my grandparents, but my paternal ones are usually at Christmas dinner at my Mom's and my maternal grandparents we see the week before at our Christmas party with my Mom's whole family.


I can't imagine cutting grandparents out of Christmas day to ensure some illusion of a big happy family for one child... I don't mean that to sound bad... but realistically, I just don't think that could happen. Both of DSD's parents are remarried or soon to be, with one half sibling on the way, and I'm sure one day her Mom will give her another sibling as well... we would end up having to rent a hall or something just to fit all the family members. lol It's just not realistic...


And honestly... not to sound like a "crazy second wife", but I am sure there are others that agree... the ex is an ex... everyone has moved on with their lives... they do what is best for the child, but fact of the matter is the child has two famlies now, not one. Not to sound callous or non-understanding... but the two new families honestly deserve to move forward and start their own new family traditions as well... not live in the past with the ex.


This may very well be different if the children involved were older, say in pre-teen to teen years... but when parents split up when children are so young and their new family is young as well... honesly, just a couple years from now I will be with my DH longer than he was with his ex... why should the rest of my life revolve around his ex when we have our own family as well? I don't think the second family should be shelved or feelings pushed aside to only do what is best for the first family... Each family needs to find what works the best for them all around, and not neglect or overlook the fact that there is a whole new family in the mix.

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#25 of 27 Old 10-15-2008, 09:56 AM
 
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We've done Christmas jointly before...BUT...

1. My partner's ex is single.
2. There are no new children in the mix.
3. Aside from my parents, nobody's extended family lives within 500 miles of here.
4. I'm Jewish, so I don't care where I am on Christmas.
5. None of the parties involved are religious--Christmas is celebrated culturally/secularly, and no party has a strong family tradition that they need to continue (or mourn if they don't).
6. It's always been in the context of "let's invite your mom over for Christmas brunch," not "THIS IS HOW IT HAS TO BE UNTIL THE END OF TIME."
7. Everyone gets along decently enough.

This year, I think SD's mom is taking her to visit out-of-state family over Christmas, and we'll do the same over New Years.

I think if more than one of the above factors changed significantly, a joint Christmas would be downright impossible.

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#26 of 27 Old 10-15-2008, 10:49 AM
 
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I couldnt imagine inviting the EX over for the holidays...

But for the Christmas holiday he can have him before and up until the Christmas eve night (he is usually dropped off very late). And then he sleeps as long as he wants and wakes up at my house Christmas morning.
I figure my EX has only expressed an interest in my son last year so he can work around our schedule for a while.
As for Thanksgiving... I am not sure yet. Last year he wanted him to come with him but called the day before and told us that he was too busy to be driving around with DS. So he came with us to my sides dinner.
I guess its easier for us since the EX doesnt really have much of a interest in DS and isnt really firm about anything.

Mom to '97, '07, '09 and birth mom '00 and wife to my BFF
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#27 of 27 Old 10-15-2008, 11:40 AM
 
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These posts about joint holidays made me think of something. I was married once before. My ex-husband's parents split up when he was in high school. There were four kids. His mom remarried, but his dad still came over for Christmas every year. In fact, come to think of it, his dad (and all of the adult siblings) came over every Sunday. My ex's youngest sister was developmentally disabled and still lived with his mom, so he was technically coming to visit her, but it was a small house so it was like a family visit.

I think the reason that it worked was because the marriage broke up by the dad's doing, and the mom felt that she was way better off with the new husband. The divorce was pretty old at the point that I was around, so the hard feelings were pretty much gone. I think the new husband just tolerated the old one coming over. He was kind of a quiet guy anyway. The fact that we spent a lot of time dissecting the dad's dating problems is pretty comical, in retrospect.

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