Tis the time of the year when we all have visions of sugar plums, reindeer and a certain jolly, rotund and bearded man who comes tumbling down our chimneys. And, whether or not we celebrate Christmas, Kwanzaa or Chanukah, most of us recognize that New Year’s Eve is around the corner – with its requisite festivities awaiting us.
And, of course, family plays a major role in all of these revelries as we embrace mental images of our children and grandchildren all enjoying, not only the celebrations, but each other’s company.
Ah. What a gorgeous picture we create in our minds.
But is it realistic? Do we really all “enjoy each other’s company? Indeed, are we really all together in one place at one time?
My family is a blended family and, as a mom and mother-in-law, stepmother and stepmother-in-law, and a grandmother to the children of all of the above, I want to be with all of them all the time during all the holidays. And what about my kids who are also members of blended families? They are often torn between their respective parents and in-laws who all feel as I do.
Something has got to give; someone has to be the voice of reason here and recognize that no one can be in all places at the same time.
While many who know me would hesitate to say that I am often a voice of reason, I do know that in this instance I need to force myself to accept that role. And, so, I have learned over the years to have an open home and heart and be grateful for whatever time I have with the kids and grandkids. They all know that “Grams” and “Boopah” would love nothing more than to be with them at all celebratory occasions, but we understand the pull and tug they experience from the other parental units who also want to be with them.
We’ve found ways to observe holidays together – if even from afar. After all we can Skype or even use the telephone as we light holiday candles or open gifts. And when the times arrive when we are actually together we can turn those occasions into our own mini-holidays. After all, who says we can only be thankful and eat turkey on Thanksgiving?
By creating an atmosphere where our kids never feel compelled to be with us, they will never feel it as an obligation. When we gather, everyone, then, feels comfortable and relaxed.
Back to the “enjoying each other’s company” part of the equation. Well, personalities are ingrained and it is not guaranteed that blended family members are going to love – or even like – each other. But that doesn’t negate creating an atmosphere of mutual respect – and that comes from the matriarch and patriarch of the family (in this case, my husband and me).
I’m fortunate and blessed that my kids and grandkids all respect and truly love each other. That was not my doing, but stems from the fact that they are all truly caring, warm and supportive people. But I also know that by following my own recipe for blended family life, I have helped create one heck of a great “smoothie” of a family:
*Add intelligent and loving people
*Allow for each to join the mix at their own pace and their own time.
*Don’t force anything into the mix that won’t work naturally.
*Respect each other’s unique attributes and qualities.
*Blend together carefully and with a huge amount of love.
Enjoy your family, especially at this festive time of the year. Blended or not, we are blessed with these people in our lives. It is important that we remember and give thanks for that. And that we create an atmosphere where they do the same.
C.J. Golden, author of TAO OF THE DEFIANT WOMAN, and the award winning TAO-GIRLS RULE! is a motivational speaker who travels the country inspiring all with her dynamic spirit and vision as she helps others walk their ever-evolving paths of life with more ease, joy and vitality. Her unique, personal approach combines Taoism (acceptance of changes that occur naturally in life) with a good dose of modern day defiance (defying stereotypes, negativity, and self-limiting behaviors). Golden's voice is one of a kind; imparting wisdom while staying completely accessible. Like a spunky fairy-godmother with the occasionally red or green tipped hair, she is a shoulder to lean on and a 'rock on' motivator all in one.
Visit CJ Golden at www.taogirl.com