Researchers suggest that creating a holiday tradition as a stepfamily is one way to draw people together and build a shared history. If we share a tradition, we share an experience. Those with shared experiences have a bond. However, if we want to have a tradition, we need to plan for it.
When my stepfamily was created a number of years ago, I wanted to establish new traditions for our family while recognizing that my stepchildren had traditions of their own that they wanted to continue. We celebrate Christmas, so I first determined that I would hang their childhood stockings on our new mantle in our new home. I still do that to this day, despite the ages of my stepchildren! However, some of our initial “traditions” have been cast aside for various reasons, but mostly because they didn’t work for us. The 20 ft. artificial tree is now packed in a box in storage space in our basement. Instead, we determined that we would rather shop for a real tree together as Christmas drew nearer, complete with a tree decorating party at home afterwards.
That said, there is a need for planning involved in establishing traditions. Often custodial arrangements during the holiday season don’t allow stepparents to spend time with their stepchildren on the specific holiday. However, that need not render us unable to celebrate. My stepchildren need to spend some time with their maternal side of the family. We understand that is important for their holiday to be complete. Therefore, every year we work out a schedule that enables them to spend time with both families. It can be difficult since our younger two are in college and are only in town for a set number of days. It does take some planning, but it can work.
This year, take the time to establish your own holiday traditions. I know of a number of families who use the “Elf on a Shelf” to encourage the Christmas spirit. Maybe your church or synagogue offers a special religious service that your family could attend. Perhaps baking holiday cookies is up your alley. Whatever you choose, make certain that it fits your families needs. By establishing these new traditions, you provide something to look forward to despite the frenzied holiday season.
**IDEAS FOR HOLIDAY TRADITIONS:
Ornament making party
Tree decorating party
Make a gingerbread house
Create a family newsletter
Christmas Eve candlelight service
Play dreidel games
Holiday movie night
Special holiday dinner/favorite dish
Adopt an “angel” from a local charity
Hang the mistletoe
Make reindeer food