It’s tough to plan holiday parties, meals, and decorations when you’re in a new relationship. There are more kinds of blended families than you can name, and those families face all sorts of challenges and frustrations. It’s a piece of cake to think ahead and make sure your holiday traditions don’t become the source of stress and ill will.
1. Make the holidays calm and bright by blessing your relationship with co-operation. Begin new traditions that please you both. My husband and I decided to open our gifts the Sunday before Christmas, with hot chocolate and cookies, a holiday video, and just the two of us.
2. Deck the halls with peace and laughter. Decorate to honor both spiritual points of view. You might combine Hanukkah lights with reindeer, honoring the Earth, the ancient religions, and your partnership. Be willing to let go on issues that just don’t matter.
3. Use some of his family’s best recipes for dinners and parties, and add your family favorites. We discovered dishes we both love. My grandmother’s savory stuffing nestles inside a turkey seasoned the way his mom did hers. I bake snicker doodles in honor of my German ancestry and molasses cookies, because his family helped settle America. Our holiday dinners combine the best of the old world and the new.
4. Celebrate prayer on more than one holy night. Maybe he needs Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, and you don’t have a strong church preference. Go gladly with him and take joy in the peace and beauty of the service. Sing the carols together, and plan some time to meet your spiritual needs as well.
5. Simplify. There might be traditional activities you’ve always undertaken that don’t really mean a lot to you. Take inventory of what you always do for the holidays, and eliminate those things that are done just out of habit.
6. Talk with your partner about what you both want and need. With an open mind, be willing to tolerate, yes, even delight in change. Before the holidays are upon you, discuss what really matters. Make calm, quiet, pleasant little spaces part of your new traditions and make your holidays full of opportunities to love each other better. Communication is an incredible gift.
Many of us will share this year’s brightest season with a new lover, spouse, partner, or child we’ve welcomed into our lives. We all know that the holiday season can be overwhelming, but a new family or a new couple has every opportunity to help and support each other through changes. Keep your heart open to love and keep an awareness of how things are going for your new loved one. Being sensitive to their feelings doesn’t mean your own needs can’t be met.
Someone said we struggle at the holidays with shopping, chores, and inclement weather, but it’s good to know we have people who are worth the struggle, and to whom we are worth the same.