On August 2, 2014 my husband and I got married, but like so many other families these days, we did not become a party of two, but a party of three. Blended families, as they call it, are more and more common these days. I don’t know about you, but there were lots of things to navigate, but none more frightening to me than the holidays.
I was 32 years old when Ben and I got married, which means for 32 years, without fail, I spent Christmas Day with my family, specifically my mom (and my brother once he was born). Some years we would go to my grandparents, but every year Santa came, ate his cookies and Rudolf at his array of veggies or fruit. Some years Santa left a note. Some years he left boot prints. Every year he came. There were always homemade cinnamon rolls. This is something that after 32 years was so ingrained in soul that giving it up seemed to be cruel and unusual punishment for everyone involved. But I am not a party of one any longer, I am a party of three.
The idea of shared holidays was intimidating. I couldn’t help but feel like I was giving up my traditions. I am an old dog with old tricks. Changing my Christmas tricks? They must be crazy, but alas, it is all part of the “I do.”
“I do promise to love this man, and combine his Holiday traditions with mine. I do promise to include all families. I do promise that we will create our Christmas traditions.”
Creating New Christmas Traditions
With an eight year old involved, the Christmas spirit is very alive. I have been terrified that changing any part of her traditions would shatter that. I have scoured the internet making sure that Zip the Christmas Elf felt included as well. Last year when I was just Dad’s girlfriend. This year I decided to apply this to something very visual first, the decorations. As we hung each ornament I got to tell my step-daughter the story of it. As she hung each of hers, she got to tell me the story. It became the ice breaker to all other decorations. We put up garland around the banisters outside and put out her beloved inflatable Christmas Mickey. It was a combination of theirs and mine, but I wanted something that was ours.
Stockings…we all needed stockings. Of course we had some, but none of them matched and that just wouldn’t do. In fact Ben makes fun of me on a regular basis for my matching. He calls it matching, I call it coordinating. I figured this was as good a time as any to create something that was new and ours.
I called up a friend who is the maker of all things wonderful in children’s clothes and home textiles. Katie Griffin was the only person for the job. I wasn’t going to buy any ole stockings, I needed some that were uniquely Andrus. Katie and I went back and forth on fabric and details. I had only two rules: NO BURLAP and NO MONOGRAMS. We just aren’t those people. I wanted refined, kitschy Christmas stockings. The result was more than I could have hoped for.
When Katie brought them to our house, yep that’s right, they were delivered, my step-daughter and I almost broke windows with our shrills of delight. We decided which stocking looked like who and assigned them. These stockings were something special and the start of our first of many Christmases as a family. The stockings have become my little reminder that sometimes when we give up a little piece of something familiar we gain a whole heart of excitement and anticipation. That anticipation is our Christmas, our traditions as party of three.
From there it’s been navigating through Christmas lists, presents, shared schedules and navigating the plans of Christmas day. I don’t know that we are doing it perfectly, but I know that we are doing it together.