Ask any stepmum about their most stressful time of year and I’m confident the vast majority will mention two things;
- Step kids birthdays….. and……
- Christmas (I’ll include thanksgiving here too for the USA based)
As it’s December and monsters birthday falls in March, of course I’m talking Christmas today.
Christmas/ the whole festive season is a funny time for any family, full of stress, huge to do lists and juggling sides of the family mixed in with excitement, happiness and a big dose of fun. For a blended family, it’s stress on roids! We not only have to consider both of our families but also scheduling contact time with the little monster and his whole other side of family.
A Family Affair
Our plan has always been to have monster on alternate Christmas days, so our plan has always been to alternate Christmas days between mine and OHs families. All very straightforward and fair right!? IF this plan had ever come through I’m sure it would be! As it stands my partner and I have spent 3 Christmas days together and the main day has always been with my family (bar our first when he had the good fortune to be very unwell on Christmas morning at my parents). We have seen monster on Christmas Eve, though that’s never quite gone to plan either, it means we have spent this day with my partners family.
The questions usually start in October at where we will be on which days over Christmas. At this point, we literally have no idea – it’s always our scheduled year to see Monster on Christmas Day itself, but as above this never happens. So, we delay our answer until December when we have confirmation that we wont have him and will be tied in to Christmas Eve with my partners family, which is fine except they of course want Christmas Day too. This goes round in circles for weeks, at the end of which I don’t honestly care anymore and the little Christmas spirit I had has pretty much dissipated.
Our Family Traditions
The month before Christmas we try and do as many special activities together as we can. Despite or even because of all the uncertainty we have, we (I) are desperate to create our own traditions around the holidays to make a special time of year we’ll all remember fondly for many years to come. This need and drive in me has given us a pretty long list of “traditions” including:
- Making fingerprint Christmas cards (approximately a million)
- Homemade gifts for all immediate family
- Visiting Santa at multiple locations
- Homemade Christmas cake
- Homemade decorations
- Christmas Eve box (bought but unused for 2 years)
- Full Christmas experience on whatever day we have him
2017 Craft Experience
This year, we are still getting over a substantial issue with contact so Christmas didn’t actually cross my mind until mid-November. I was a month late making the Christmas cake (it’s missing an important ingredient I forgot to buy, but that’s our secret!), we only managed to fit in one trip to Santa and had a crazy weekend to fit in; 2 birthday parties, a fun run and all the Christmas crafts at super high-intensity.
Honestly – Monster was fed up after the first 30 minutes, I was losing the will to live and my OH withdrew from the situation completely. We still managed to have a bit of a laugh, and I may (or may not) have used my pinky in an intentionally haphazard fashion to get the damn cards finished 4 year old style!
Then we have the issue of homemade gifts – these are always very much from monster and have ranged from foot & hand print Rudolph cushions, hand-print ornaments or this year.. his first school photo. The first problem is always deciding what to make (and what we have time for) and the second… who to make them for!?
The Gift List
I really think of Monster as part of me and my family, but of course he isn’t my child… so do my family want a copy of his school photo? Does my Nana want a homemade display from her grand-daughters boyfriends son?! Hmmm… well I wouldn’t want anybody to not be included and feel offended, but equally, I wouldn’t want to give a gift which makes anyone uncomfortable or awkward.. in the end I decided to stop stressing and give one to everybody – if anyone doesn’t want it, they can just put in a cupboard.. or the bin, but as always, it took a longer than it should to get to this decision!
Who’s it all for?
After all this stress and manic rushing around on our last Monster weekend before the big day; I couldn’t really figure out why we were doing it or who we were doing it for, other than I wanted us to have a “thing” and in my head Christmas crafts are a lovely family tradition.
Even the trips to Santa are kind of bizarre – Monster has always been one of those kids who is excited by the idea of visiting Santa but in reality will cling on to mine or OHs legs and make a mad dash to grab the present at the end, so again its something we do, not really because Monster loves it but more because… it’s just what families do!
This huge amount of stress and pressure isn’t coming from Monster, it’s not coming from my OH, it’s coming from me! I’m the one who really cares about all this stuff, while my OH enjoys and likes that we do it I’m not sure he’d be desperately upset if we didn’t cover the house in glitter and craft supplies! As for Monster, he pretty much enjoys everything we do, so I’m sure he’d be just as happy playing pirates or just watching TV.
Having said all that, I’m pretty much 100% confident that I will still go ahead with the crafty festivities next year, but hopefully I’ll worry a little less and if we only have the time and patience for 10 cards, that’ll be absolutely fine. We will do what we have time for and make the most of the time we have together, because really in a blended family that’s the best we can ever hope for, and whatever we do is sure to be magical and special.. because we’ll be doing it together. What a sop-fest!