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becoming a stepmom, I've learned to rework holidays to fit our schedule with
the kids. My husband, David, and I are big believers in holidays being what you
make them, and that they have little to do with a calendar date. We had
Christmas a week after the 25th last December, and the Easter Bunny received a letter from
our 5-year-old last year, asking him to come a day early because she and her
brother would be with their mom on Easter Sunday. As parents, it's up to us to
create the magic of the holidays, and if I want my kids to have memories and
traditions like I did, I have to enjoy playing Caesar with the calendar.
flip-flopping holidays and stretching celebrations out a week longer than
necessary isn't just something us stepparents have to endure. As Easter arrived, I know tons of you out there were busy planning Easter egg hunts,
Easter brunches, Easter egg dyeing sessions and Easter morning church services.
The hard part? Like us, you probably had 18 people who wanted to see your
kids in their Easter best, and you really didn't know how to squeeze that extra
time out of the day.
hug it out. If you're anything like me, you probably had a little bit of
anxiety about the whole thing. I
will be the first person to say that
I am absolutely elated that our kids have so many people who love them. I know how lucky my husband and I are to
both have big families that want to spend as much time as possible with us. I
don't take our family get-togethers for granted, and I enjoy every single second
both of our families want to celebrate Easter on the same day? Hello, anxiety!
Whose feelings do we want to hurt today?
and I made a promise to each other that we will never, ever, ever celebrate two separate family
gatherings on the same day. The last time we did, it was a total nightmare. It
was Easter 2011, and it involved driving 45 minutes to the first
gathering, having to stay an extra four hours because the rest of the family
hadn't shown up yet, scarfing down a quick lunch, letting the kids hunt eggs, driving another hour to the other family
gathering and watch as our kids totally turned into over-stimulated sugar
gremlins that wanted absolutely nothing
to do with the family we were visiting and didn't want to participate in the egg hunt we
had all worked so hard to put together. Oh! And
then we had to drive them an hour-and-a-half back to their mom's house.
I hated hearing family members at the first gathering say, "Well, nice for you to eat and run!"
Plain and simple. And the worst part about it was how badly we just wanted to
enjoy the day with our families, but it didn't happen. We spent way too much
money on gas and way too much time bickering with each other and snapping at
our exhausted kids on Easter Sunday. I hated hearing family members at the
first gathering say, "Well, nice for you to eat and run!" as we rushed out the
door four hours late to the next gathering where family members said, "We
waited as long as we could for you, but we're probably going to leave in a
minute." It was awful.
David and I
made our promise that we would never
do that again and, despite how elated I am about it, I'm the one having the
most trouble with the promise. The thing is, I'm a people pleaser. I like to
make everyone happy (it's a middle child thing), and I like to keep traditions
alive. When my grandmother tells me Easter dinner is at 3 o'clock and David's mom
says Easter dinner's at noon, I know that I need to tell one of them to change
their plans. But I'm terrified of hurting
someone's feelings. I'm terrified that I'm either going to be the "daughter-in-law that keeps my son away from our family gatherings" or the "daughter that spends all her time with her husband's family."
our families worked it out this year. We celebrated Easter with David's
family the weekend before with an egg hunt and dinner and then we joined my
family on Easter Sunday for the same activities. I'm grateful it's worked out, and I'm happy about spending uninterrupted, quality time with both sides of my family.
But I can't
help worrying about the next holiday.
I can't help grilling my grandmother about Thanksgiving plans eight months
ahead of time so that I can already pencil one side into our schedule, and I can't
help thinking about Christmas and wondering if I should just scrap it all and
celebrate holidays with my own little family of four.
you guys? Is anyone else out there struggling to make everyone happy when it
comes to holidays? Does anyone else wake up in a cold sweat wondering how they
can convince their family to celebrate Thanksgiving a week after the day? I
know I need to remember that what's best for my little foursome is all that
matters, but guilt and I don't get along so well.