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Stepmoms Celebrate Christmas, Too

Photograph by Getty Images

Up until last year, I had spent over six years working in retail. Anyone who has ever worked in retail knows that it has its moments where you feel like your very soul is being sucked out of you. But I have to say that the worst thing about retail is working holidays.

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I was lucky to only work in places that were closed Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day, but that didn’t stop the dread of working a 12-hour day on Christmas Eve. When I became a stepmom, that dread doubled itself until I nearly cried myself to sleep every December 23rd. I couldn’t stand the thought of not being at home to bake cookies with my stepchildren, to share their excitement in Santa finally coming to our home and to spend the time with my husband, nudging him when I thought it was time for the kids to get tucked into bed.

Apparently, however, not everyone thought my Christmas fantasies were warranted. This came up when a coworker, on the last Christmas Eve I worked, asked me if people who had children were allowed to leave early instead of closing up the store. I had been there since 8 a.m. and she had arrived just after 4 p.m. I shook my head and told her, “No, unfortunately not. I mean, I’ve been here since 8 and I probably won’t leave until 8 tonight.”

“Well how come you’re leaving early?” She asked me.

“Early? I’ve been here for almost 12 hours. How is that early?”

“I mean, why do I have to work until midnight and you can leave at eight? I’ve got kids at home that I should be with for Christmas,” she said.

“Right. I’m sorry about that, but I also have kids at home,” I told her.

“Oh yeah, I forgot. Except stepkids really shouldn’t count when it comes to this.”

They are the entire reason I’m staying up late Christmas Eve to wrap cookies and eat Rudolph’s carrots.

Oh, you guys. If it hadn’t been Christmas Eve ... well. I don’t know what I would’ve done besides blog about it. The point is, what on Earth does me being a stepmother have to do with children’s Christmas traditions?

I’ve had this debate with others before, but the simplest way I can express my feelings about this is by saying that these kids may be my stepkids, but they are going to be in my life forever. They are my children. They are the entire reason I’m staying up late Christmas Eve to wrap cookies and eat Rudolph’s carrots. They are spending the most magical holiday with me, and I’m going to do everything in my power to make it special for them, just like I would with my own children.

And that brings me to another point: If I ignored Christmas traditions because my stepchildren are not biologically mine, what in the world am I supposed to do when I have my own children? Start the holiday traditions then? Because I totally won’t look like Cinderella’s stepmom with that idea.

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I got pretty lucky marrying a man who had such young children. While David had ideas for future family Christmas traditions, there wasn’t anything the kids had done every year that they would miss with our traditions. Instead, we kind of got a blank slate and have been filling it each year. I’m excited that our traditions will be set by the time future children come along and that all of my children will have the same wonderful Christmas memories.

Even if they aren’t biologically mine.

Did your stepchildren come into your life with expected holiday traditions? Have you been able to help stage their Christmas memories with your own family ideas?

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