Custody Holiday Traditions
Helping Your Kids Transition Between Two Homes
My first Christmas as a married woman was interesting to say the least. Christmas Eve was “the” big family meal with a stuffed turkey. In my childhood, cookies were freely eaten all week of the holiday. Christmas Day (the actual Dec. 25th) was always a day for snacking without a big meal. During the week of Christmas it was just fun, laughter, memories made and remembered. That is how I knew Christmas for over 30 years.
And then … I married my husband and he already had a child, my step-daughter (bonus child). My husband is not a momma’s boy, so I was completely unprepared for how Christmas and everything around the holiday was turned over to his mother’s handling. My mother-in-law is a Southern Belle of the highest order, and I mean that in the best possible way. (Yes, you are reading the envy correctly). So many people wanted invitations to her home and her holiday events that I failed to see how my automatic involvement through my husband and bonus child was a coup.
My own daddy (yes I still call him that to this day) was as Southern as it comes and yet the culture shock was difficult. Mind you that after dinner in my former NY life, we watched Arnold Schwarzenegger movies … that was not the case in my new married family. It was sooooo different in NC.
Christmas Day was when everyone received a stocking with your name on it (yes, personalized people!!!), all gifts were opened slowly and one at a time, taking turns with everyone watching and caring. Santa had visited during the night and left unwrapped gifts. UNWRAPPED?!?! And then everyone just spent time together (again no Conan the Barbarian or sequels) until an early dinner around lunchtime.
What is my point here? Christmas is different and when custody conflicts, step parents, new siblings, and additional bonus grandparents appear on the scene. I still to this day think that watching Arnold Schwarzenegger movies on Christmas Eve should be made into law, but my step-daughter needed her traditions to be the same when I arrived on the scene. Don’t get me wrong, we still added in some new traditions, but I received the bonus of new traditions. Remember that although different, neither set of traditions were better (okay I’ll stop on Arnold here, but …. Better!). And every single child is different and my step-daughter needed consistency.
Be kind to the other parent and let them have their own traditions with the child(ren) and recognize that moving your celebration by a day or two, making changes, or giving concessions is all in the Christmas spirit. Let’s focus on the children this season and make decisions with them in mind. Yes, you may lose or delay some traditions until next year, but your children will gain so much.
For me this year, if you are lonely, feeling sad about a tradition delayed, or just need a pick me up – go ahead and watch some Arnold Schwarzenegger movies – just “Get to the Choppa” and Jingle All the Way (1996). Merry Christmas
Practicing law for over 20 years may have caused Janet some gray hairs, but she remains young at heart, probably because she loves what she does. Janet's focus is to work with clients building new lives after relationship turmoil and although it is hard work, she finds it utterly rewarding. Such work and experiences gives Janet a ton of insight and along with her legal knowledge (afterall she is a Board Certified Family Law Specialist) she is able to get to the heart of any legal matter quickly in order to start helping clients find resolutions and to get their lives back on track.