Thursday, November 29, 2012

Blending Holiday Traditions

As a child you follow the holiday traditions of your parents.  As a single adult you can pick and choose what you want to do in your own home.  Once you become part of a couple, married or otherwise, all those things change.  The question becomes whose holiday traditions will you follow?  Whose parents will you spend the holidays with?  Something that seems so simple can actually become very stressful. 

Traditions are sacred and we each want to believe that our own holiday traditions are the best traditions.  Once you have children navigating these waters becomes even trickier.  What time are your children allowed our of their rooms on Christmas morning?  Are they allowed to open stockings without you?  Are presents from Santa wrapped or unwrapped? 

While I don't think that these are issues that will make or break a marriage, they are issues that will come up.  If each person in the marriage feels very strongly about their traditions, it's important to sit down and determine what your OWN family traditions will be.  This can require compromise and that can feel hard for some individuals. 

Often we look at compromise as giving up something and in our minds giving up something is losing something.  That's not the case.  Instead of looking at compromise as giving up something look at it as gaining something.  You may have to let go of decorating your tree Thanksgiving weekend, but you may gain a better appreciation of focusing on the Thanksgiving holiday as its own holiday instead of as the start of the Christmas season.  Instead of determining if Santa leaves wrapped or unwrapped presents, maybe Santa leaves small gifts wrapped and large presents unwrapped under the tree.  Once you have children maybe you don't spend holidays with your parents or your in-laws, but rather host an event at your house at your convenience. 

Families.Com has some great articles on creating new holiday traditions as a married couple.  If you are a family with step children, incorporating the thoughts and feelings of all your children as to what the holidays should look like can alleviate stress and make for a stronger family unit.  It's important that your children be able to express to you what it feels like to divide their time between two households during the holidays without fear that they may hurt your feelings.  The more support they feel from you, the more likely they are to have a joyous holiday experience. 

Navigating marriage can be challenging enough without making the holidays stressful.  Remember the holidays are a time of joy and family.  As long as you communicate openly and are willing to give a little, your new holiday traditions will soon be something your whole family looks forward to every year. 

**For the purposes of this post references to Santa and Christmas were used; however, this author recognizes that stress and joy can come regardless of your religious or spiritual preferences.  We wish you a joyous holiday season!

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