This past weekend the holiday decorations went up. I am much more enthusiastic about the holidays this year. With everyone in our family vaccinated, some normalcy has returned to our lives. Plus, this is our first holiday season as a married couple, and of course the first with a grandchild, so there’s that too.
I have had an on and off relationship with the holidays since I outgrew Santa Claus. There were great Christmases past when my daughter was small and I got to play Santa, and not so great times after my dad, and then my mom, died. When my daughter’s father died, she and I spent years just escaping to some far away destination that would distract us from all that was missing.
Kurt and I spent our first Christmas in a long distance relationship, but found ways to make our own celebration at a time when we could. When my daughter and I moved out here in 2018, we began trying to develop a new holiday normal with this blended family that Kurt and I were trying to create. It was met with some challenges.
This year, I am joyful in seeing how far we’ve come. At first my daughter avoided some of the traditions like Kurt’s family dinner for his birthday because she didn’t really know anyone that well yet. For Christmas that year, I asked that Kurt’s ex be excluded because I knew that having Kurt’s children’s mom there would be a difficult reminder for both my daughter and I that her other parent could never be included.
We gradually worked through these issues and have grown as a blended family. Of course the introduction of the first grandchild, Kurt’s son’s son, in May had us all spending a lot more time together. Then our marriage in August, and finally Kurt’s son’s formal wedding celebration in October had us all spending a weekend together in North Carolina.
Over the course of that weekend, my daughter and Kurt’s first wife bonded, and perhaps she no longer saw her presence as weird but appropriate; that rather than being a reminder of her father’s absence, she was another caring adult in this messy little family of ours.
Having a baby in mix again has me thinking about my daughter’s first years and all the people who were around our holiday table then. They are all gone from our lives. Perhaps that’s what makes it so important to me now that everyone who can be included, is. I never would have imagined all of this just a short three years ago and I am really proud of the life we have created, with all its imperfections.
Our family Christmas celebration this year is planned for Kurt’s Birthday a week before the actual holiday in order to accommodate travel schedules to visit in-laws. It will include everyone: 5 adult children, 3 parents/grandparents, 2 dogs, 1 baby and a partridge in a pear tree. Only the three cats will be staying at their perspective homes, because, well, that would just be chaotic.