Friday, December 18, 2015

Using the Holidays to Create Unity

I often struggle with the Pinocchio Complex: the perpetual need for validation that we too are a real family, traditional or not. 

There are a handful of things that trigger this somewhat neurotic response. A couple years ago my husband’s 16-year old echoed a nasty refrain—he was the oldest of four kids, not seven. Every now and then our children get swept up in reminiscing about the way things were before my husband and I married. And there are always those who question how a solid family relationship can be established when we only see each other every weekend and not every day.

Like a lot of things, my anxiety
over this issue is only going to be eliminated when I become comfortable with the way things are, regardless of what anyone else thinks. This often requires me to be proactive about initiating positive change.

A couple years ago I realized that Christmas is a great time to build family unity. There’s something about traditions that bring people together and give them something to reminisce about later. And as a fairly new family, we were free to establish whatever traditions appealed most to us and our unique situation. And we did.

Now we enjoy a bunch of activities that the kids look forward to every year. If you need ideas for new traditions of your own, feel free to steal any of the following (I’m pretty sure I did):

·        Every December we pick a person or family to “Secret Santa” for the 12 days before Christmas. We leave goodies/gifts/thoughts on their doorstep at night, and the kids love ringing the doorbell and running away. The big challenge is not getting caught, and they love thinking of innovative ways to be stealthy. (The dollar store is a lifesaver for this. It’s amazing how many fun holiday items they have in stock.)
·        There are a handful of houses in our town that provide a crazy light show that syncs to music broadcasted on a local radio frequency. We load the kids into our van and pass out bags of caramel corn and cups of hot chocolate (lidded hot chocolate! Please learn from our mistakes). We watch for awhile, take a selfie, and then drive home with sleepy kids right before bedtime. This is of MY personal favorites, for obvious reasons.
·        I’ve never been able to craft fancy gingerbread houses—so I improvise, making them with six graham-cracker squares and a load of hot glue. The kids know they can’t eat the houses, but they love heaping them with candy, pasting them on with frosting I put in sandwich bags (with the corners cut). About half of it ends up in their mouths, but it’s a good time.
·        Sometime in December we stop reading the Book of Mormon and start reading the New Testament, focusing on the first few chapters of Matthew, Mark, Luck and John, to get each account of the Savior’s birth.
·        And when we’re altogether on Christmas Eve (we switch every other year), we read through Luke 2 and perform the nativity.

There’s something about traditions that create unity. Everyone in the family is involved in an exclusive activity designed to celebrate something special. We hope you create lots of amazing memories this holiday season as you celebrate Christmas together. In the comments, please share some of the traditions you’ve started in your own blended family.

Merry Christmas!

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