Ahh, the holidays. The festivities, the pine tinged air, the twinkling lights, the carol singing, (Please do not knock on my door after 5 PM and start singing carols I will either open the door and laugh my ass off, or depending on how it went at work that day and how many glasses of wine I have downed since returning home, I may start crying and ask you all to come in and explain Google Analytics to me, because I have been at my job for a year now and I STILL DON’T GET IT and it’s getting very tiring pretending I do.) Trust me, you don’t want any part of that…so move along please. Anyway, the holidays… Fun right?
When my kids were little I LOVED the holidays, Hannukah, Christmas…BRING IT! Now, if you’ve read my book, There’s Been A Change Of Plans, you know that we are Jewish but that we also loved Christmas. How can you not? It’s fun! It’s Santa! It’s happy songs! Of course when my kids were in school, the school was politically correct in doing a “Holiday Show” as opposed to a “Christmas Pageant”, but really isn’t it all about Rudolph? Am I the only one who tears up when singing Frosty The Snowman? Yes I know “He’ll be back again someday,” but when? I need reassurance damn it!
Also, I’m going to come clean here and say I love gifts. When M asks “What do you want for Hannukah this year?” I don’t reply “Oh I can’t think of a thing.” Everything! I want everything! Remember that mug with the cats all over it I saw last Spring in the local gift store? I want it! Remember that bracelet with the little wine glass charm hanging from it? I WANT IT! I want it wrapped. I want bows. I can’t help it. I love gifts. You will never see the words “NO GIFTS PLEASE” on an invitation I send out, more like “YES BRING ME STUFF!” Sorry, but there it is.
Anyway, I can tell you that as much as I love this time of year, divorce can throw a wet blanket on it, and if you are divorced then you know what I’m talking about. The first divorced Christmas/Hannukah is killer, it may be all you can do to go through the motions, putting up the tree, with the same beloved ornaments you’ve had since before the kids were born. You may remember your first little tree as a married couple, before there were little people around made from the two of you. How proud you were of it when your family came over and you all sat on your little apartment floor drinking eggnog from dixie cups. Now, the decorations cause you to break into spontaneous tears, the strands of lights are a pain in the ass that you don’t want to deal with instead of a happy beginning to a season of love and laughter.
The next year is a little easier and then perhaps the next year, you are not alone in facing it. Maybe you have started seeing a special someone, and maybe this is when the family will gather to give him a good going over. As excited as you are to have a new person to share your family and children with, it may not be all smooth sailing. You cannot control the way your family will act and you cannot control the things your new partner may say or do.
For instance, the first time I brought M to a holiday dinner, it was at my house for Thanksgiving. It was going pretty well, the kids were keeping their distance but my sisters and parents were being cordial. My dad and I removed the turkey from the oven and then from the huge roasting pan that I had used for Thanksgiving turkeys for the last 20 years or so. My mother took her rightful place at the grease filled roasting pan, where she would create the gravy that the whole family dreams of all year long. Suddenly M was there standing next to her and before I could get to him, as if in slow motion, I saw him open his mouth and heard him say, “Oh let me do this, I’m a gravy aficianado!”
Well, time stopped. The room went silent. My father stopped carving. In that instant I was not sure how we could go on from there. My mother, all class and tact as always, stepped away and said “Oh please, have at it!” But we knew, this was bad. Very bad.
Guess what? By the end of the dinner all was well and since then my mother has returned to her rightly position as gravy goddess and we laugh about it now.
There will be moments. It is not easy bringing a new person into family traditions. My big tip for you is DON’T PUSH IT. You can’t make everyone accept your new person YET. He has to earn it and if he is the right person he will. Sending your kids to their rooms because they ignore him or choose to keep their distance will only make them resent him. Having him jump in and participate in family traditions may make your family wary. Time is on your side, and use as much of it as you need…as THEY need.
M and I have been together for years now. Our families come together now for the holidays, my parents, his mother, our siblings, our 7 kids. It will happen if you let it— naturally.
Now, I need to get back to my Xmas list. I must try and remember… which gift store was it that I saw the cat mug…