Strap in for a journey as we unravel the complexities of celebrating the holidays in a blended family. I'm your host, James Ferris, with a passion for the festive period and an understanding of the challenges that come with it. We'll explore the importance of planning, communication, flexibility, and understanding, especially when it comes to stepchildren spending time with their other biological parent. You'll learn how to foster a sense of inclusion in all holiday celebrations, even if it means having multiple gatherings. Ultimately, we aim to cultivate a cohesive and welcoming family unit, regardless of biological ties.
Hello and welcome to Blended Fatherhood. I'm your host, james Ferris, and on today's episode we're going to talk about all about the holidays, and that's super exciting. Actually, I love the holidays. I think Christmas and December is a great time of year, and if you don't celebrate Christmas whatever, I think December is a great time of year to kind of just get together, hang out with family, and I really like it. But it can be kind of daunting and kind of scary and some people don't not at all like they have bad memories, bad things happened. They just have a bad tasting amount for the holidays, which is fine, I guess. I just I really like it. However, there are some considerations to think about. When you have a blended family, because you're not dealing with, you know, a kind of group that's all together like there's splitting, there's different sections, maybe your step kids don't live with you all the time and so you're the side hey are they're gonna be here, they're not gonna be here. Who's year is it to host? Who's year is it not to host those sort of ideas, and that can get really tricky. It can also get really painful if it's done wrong right, and so we want to try to avoid the pain and make sure that things go smoothly. So, to start, you want to make sure you have a plan first of all. If you don't have a plan, then well, that's not good. So make sure you have a plan, and that just comes from like being good at scheduling, like set a meeting time, have a meeting, make sure that everybody's on the same page. You know, little Johnny, whatever is, he's gonna go with his dad for Christmas this year, and so then we're not gonna see him after the 18th of December until you know, january 1st or whatever, right? So he's gonna be gone for two weeks or something like that. Or, you know, maybe it could just be like, hey, on Christmas day, like we're gonna do our thing, but then he needs to be over here at this house by like two o'clock, right? And you need to know, like, make sure that plans are set in stone and make sure that everybody's on the same page, and that goes for both parents of any child, doesn't matter, make sure all step parents are well too. You know, in a situation where it's like there's another, like the other biological dad, right, you don't necessarily need to be the person that initiates that conversation. That probably should go from your wife as well. But you can make sure that you are aware and you are also comfortable with whatever the plans are too. But you need to be the one who's flexible and lenient here. So if let's say that your step kid is going with their dad for the holidays, so they're gonna be gone a week, so like couple days before Christmas to a few days after Christmas, they're gone for a week, right? So they're gonna miss the majority of like festivities that happened around that time totally a thing that happens, not not a bad thing at all. You need to be a well aware and you also need to be supportive of it. In a in a blended family, it can be kind of complicated. Like you can have your kids that are from you and your wife and you have your step kids and they're gonna go off, and so you have to explain to your kids, like why they're leaving. You know, explain to them, be honest. It's not really that complicated. But also you want to make sure that you don't kind of go a humbug about whatever it is. Or let's say that you and your step kid don't get along for whatever reason. You're not there yet and that's okay. Like, again, we've talked numerous times on this podcast where it's like you don't necessarily need to be at that point. You need to be working towards that point and you need to be doing all the things we kind of talked about, but you don't need to be there, and so let's say you don't necessarily get along like being overjoyed and showing that emotion that, hey, they're not gonna be here for Christmas. That's not a good look. Okay, you're gonna make this. You're gonna make your step kid feel totally unwanted, and that's that's not what we're going for, because the idea here is that you want to be a cohesive unit, regardless of the biological ties that exist, right, so make sure that you're well aware of your emotions and you're still making things good for everybody in the house and everybody's still feeling welcome. So, yeah, know the plan, know who's going where and what. The second thing that has to do with going with the plan is making sure that, if you are not having your step kids there at the house, that you still plan something with them. And that might be really hard because you're like, wait, why do you have to do this twice? But the concept is that you want to make sure that everybody feels welcome in your house, your biological kids, your non-biological kids, your wife yourself, whatever, like you're leading the family and making sure, like hey, we're a unit, a family unit that can exist together, no matter what ties that we have. And I love every single one of the people in this house and I want to make sure that we have some time together. That's all of us. And it doesn't need to be on the 25th. Have it on the second, the third, fifth, I don't care, do it. Do it like the day before they leave. And if you mean, if it means having two big dinners, I would say do it. I would do that in a heartbeat. And actually you should probably take my advice. We haven't fully planned out where all my kids are gone, but I'm sure we'll figure it out. Either way, I think you should go for it If you want to make a big leap and say, hey, look, I love you, all of you, doesn't matter what step kid it is or not, and they're going to go away for Christmas. They might not like you back, but what you're saying by doing this action, like hey, we're going to do a separate celebration just because we want to make sure, I want to make sure that everybody is here together to do it. That's a big step of saying like I want you here, you are welcome, let's do this together, I want you to be a part of it, and so I would make that plan and I would say let's go for it. So, again, that's all about. You have to know, though, to make those plans, going ahead also with that plan and this is this is difficult for some adults, especially when you're creating a new family, because you have your traditions that you are used to during holiday season, and then you also have your wife, spouses traditions during the holiday season, and they might be totally different. So you should go and figure out those plans, figure out the traditions that you have with all those families, but also you need to focus on what the kids want to do. Okay, because in reality, you know, or if you're an adult, you're not sitting here going like Yay, christmas, I get all the gifts. You're the one who's getting all the gifts. You're the one who's giving gifts to people. You're the one who's doing all the planning your Santa and you're making sure the magic of Santa's there, because who, why not? You're doing all that work. It's not about you, it's. It's a season of like saying hey, this is not about me at all. So why do we, as adults, try to impose our own traditions that are about us on the like no, this is not, this is not it, it's not it. Okay, the season is getting everybody together, making sure everybody's having a good time and giving pretty much, you know, and so you don't need to impose that. But so you want to focus on the kids. That that again, it goes back to the same thing where I said, like, hey, we're going to plan a second Christmas and we're going to do it before you leave so we can have you here. Like, that is not about you. Like, let's say, you plan on smoking a turkey for Christmas, smoke two turkeys. You're smoking two turkeys. You're like I'm gonna go out, get a second turkey. We're gonna smoke it two weeks before. I don't care, I'm gonna put in the word. You know what I mean. I'm gonna make this as special as possible. Now, that best case scenario, right, and it doesn't necessarily need to happen that way. What I'm saying is the idea behind it is that you want to make it special for everybody who's involved in the house, regardless if they're gonna be there for Christmas or not gonna be there for Christmas, they're coming from the holiday, it doesn't matter. Okay, even small things like I'm not, like you know why not smoke a turkey, but even small things like making them feel that they are wanted for a holiday season, regardless if they're gonna be at your house or not. Second of all, too, if you're like let's say you're the Like you have a kid that doesn't live with you all the time and it's their turn for coming into Christmas, you want to make sure that they feel welcome. Like what if they they only come? Maybe you have your Biological kid that's from a marriage, but you also have your kids and so you're still a blended father and there's a bunch of different kids from everywhere. Okay, your biological kid that doesn't live with you, okay, that comes in and you know only comes in three times a year. It's gonna be really awkward for them, like super awkward. Make them feel welcome. You know, like you should have been Been doing fatherly things to make sure that they know that you love them, but also like they're coming into a situation that might be awkward because they're like forced to go to each parents household for Christmas. Like it will be awkward for them. Recognize that it's awkward, make them feel comfortable, you know, focus on what they would like to do. It's not about you. In that instance. You got to focus on the kids and think about like hey, what is it that they want to do in this moment? And let's kind of Figure out. Whatever that is next is like Again with the traditions, like make some new traditions. Don't just bring the same old rituals that you've done all the time that you're like worked for your family. You know every but every family is different. Okay, it doesn't have to be the same. You can make it special for your family, whatever it happens to be. You know we live near a neighborhood that has pretty extensive lights on a good portion of the houses. In fact, that neighborhood usually has, like these Trucks that are carrying like trailers and people like sit on them and you know pay to like go around the neighborhood, look at the lights. So every Christmas, pretty much in the evening, sometimes we have the move to Christmas Eve, because the one year we actually flew on Christmas to Visit my family, which doesn't live near us. But either way, we will get in the car Truck, people sit in the truck bed, will blast music and we'll drive around ourselves at those Christmas lights. If my, my Stepson or my son, whatever, if he's not gonna be there on Christmas Eve or a Christmas evening, we're doing it some other time, we're gonna do the day, we're gonna do it when he's here, I don't care, it's gonna happen, we'll do it afterwards it, but it's gonna happen. He's gonna be involved in it. But that was not like I did not look at Christmas lights driving around growing up. I'm not. I don't know if my wife did, but we know that's the thing that we do. We've done it three years kind of in a row. We're gonna keep on rolling, making that tradition kind of happen, because, again, why not? And if he's gone, we're gonna do it early, we're gonna do it late. I'm gonna make sure that it happens and it's gonna. It's gonna be awesome. I, you know, try. Now. That was all really cool information that seems super positive and great. It will not always be positive. There's gonna be some anger for some families. You might even be in the thick of it right now because it's December, like the first week, and you know gifts are going crazy in laws, parents and laws, whatever. I don't know. Things are going real bad and you're mad and you're frustrated and you know your wise spouse, whatever's ex-husband is like being a real jerk and you just all the things that I've said where you're like man, I really want to go off. Don't Take a chill pill there. But also, you know, no matter how angry you are, don't bad mouth and X or whatever in front of the kids. I've said that a bunch of times. Just don't do it. Do behind closed doors, right in the letter, burn the letter doesn't matter, just make sure that it's not said out loud in front of any step kid. And you kid at all. You want to make sure that relationships still kind of stay the same and difficult situations arise. Your Wives, ex, your, the, the biological father of your step kids could also just be like no, I don't want them for Christmas. And then you have to take them, but you weren't expecting to, because you also have them last year and it was this there. You're this year, right, and how do you deal with that emotion for your kids? They're gonna say, like wait, my dad doesn't want me to like what. Like that's back, right, you know what I mean. And you're gonna be angry. It happens, okay, don't be angry in front of them. It's not your job. Okay, be angry somewhere else. But also you have to be the one who's supporting and again we're talking about Christmas holidays, whatever. Everybody just wants to feel wanted. They want to feel together. Like this is. I Know a lot of people who have negative sort of emotions, like I don't really like holidays a because they didn't feel like they were wanted by anybody, but also because, like they're just full of fighting Because people can't seem to get along. You you're as the person who's leading your household. Your job is to regroup and like kind of calm the storm. Don't be the one who's leading the storm. Don't be so angry because of all these different reasons. Also, don't be a Grinch. Okay, if plans don't go the way that you wanted them to go, don't be the Grinch about it and don't be Kind of like, well, this is gonna happen and this, and well, we're gonna have to do this change. I'm like, okay, well, I don't really like this. And be a Grinch like you have your step kids coming in. They're gonna leave early, right, and this is a great example for the the lights thing, right? And so let's say, you know, a couple days before he's like oh, I know I'm gonna go with my dad, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, that happens, right, because it's like you made a plan but the plan didn't stay the same and now you have to kind of pivot, right? Okay, don't be a bohong bug about it, don't be like I don't want to do the lights, like today, whatever a lot of this like, because what does that do? That tells him it's like hey, it's not important, okay, I don't need you here, I want to do it with me. I it's about me. Like you're being selfish. You have to be flexible and you have to be able to pivot and you also have to make sure that, no matter what is going on, you're still making sure people feel wanted way easier said than done. But you know it's something to think about. Just be like hey, I'm gonna pivot and this is gonna be okay and it's not gonna be perfect. It won't, design be perfect every time, but the the memories are in the imperfections. You know we one year Thanksgiving. The day before and I know this is not Christmas, this is a great story the day before our oven broke, I was trying to make pies. I make really good sweet potato pie, if I don't say so myself and the oven was. It was not warming up, it was broken, right. And so you have. We had a pit. We were literally considering like hey, call your dad up, grab the truck, we're gonna go to Home Depot buy a whole new oven. Did we have the money for it? Not necessarily, but we could have made it work. Luckily I found a fix. But again, I you have to be flexible and not like blow up in that situation, because if I hadn't kept the level head, and they're like man, that's done Whatever, blah, blah, blah, no pie. No well, I was smoking turkey that year, so we would have turkey, but no pie. That's the important part, the pies, the important part. And we were to have pie. So, yeah, you had to pivot. Same thing goes with, like you know, I think, one year, my son. He went with his dad, but then we picked him up like early, like we had to go pick him up early, like you know what I mean. And it's not again perfect. Or another one we have to like we had two sets of the same gift Coming to my son because our lines got crossed. Okay, not a bad thing, let's just deal with the situation. You know, whatever some people might get angry. He's like, well, I bought him that gift. Why did they get him that gift? Why did they think they could get them get? Why did you not tell you know, don't, mm-hmm, I'll be deal, return one, get something else doesn't matter, don't be angry. People do get angry, but that fuse of yours can't be short. You got to be really long fuse. You got to be there, okay, and just be hopeful, okay, hope that it's gonna go awesome, hope for the best, and most likely it will be. You want to make memories. You want to make Memories with all your kids. You want to take pictures and have a memory attached to it. That's, that's good. In 20 years, you don't want to look back and be like, oh, this is. Oh, I remember that Chris, that was oh yeah. He decided to like say, hey, I'm gonna drop him off early. I can't really do the Christmas thing that the kids got mad and then our plans got ruined because I'd only bought you know enough for this, and then this happened and I got really mad at, you know, our stepson, and that was, you know, worst case really is like they feel like, hey, I'm unwanted at all times and I can't. I don't want to be here, I don't want to be there. And then the holiday for them later in life becomes like why are we celebrating this? This is just a time where people feel unwanted and I feel alone and that feeling sticks with them. Those aren't good things. We don't want those things. Nobody really wants those things. So make sure that you plan ahead, know what's going on. If that plan changes, don't be a grinch Pivot. Plan again, be hopeful. Make everyone feel wanted, wherever they are. Okay, do two celebrations. If you need to Three, don't care. It's not the date when it happens matters, it's what happens. That matters. Okay, it's not doing it on December 25th that matters. You have a rockin' Christmas on the 17th of December and it's full of amazing memories. No one will. No one's going to think oh hey, in the Christmas of 2023, it was actually on the 17th, which was lame. No, they're going to be like man, christmas 2023 was awesome. No one's going to be like it was on the 17th, it doesn't count, okay, and if they are like that, they miss the point. But that's not on you. They're saying do three, make everyone feel wanted. Okay and keep your cool long fuse, be patient. Make sure you're thinking about the kids. Okay, it's not about you, it's about the kids. What do the kids want? How are the kids going to remember this? How can we make this special for them? And that's kind of it. It's a wild ride you got to. There's a lot that can happen. But be flexible, do your thing. It's going to be great. So thank you so much for listening. Again, this is Blended Fatherhood and I'm James Ferris. If you have any questions, comments, anything, just send me an email at James at blendedfatherhoodcom, and I will promptly respond. I'd love to hear from you. Again, I appreciate listening and I'll have another episode on kind of holidays, some specific sort of scenarios, probably next week. This is just kind of a general fast overview of some things to kind of think about as we get into this holiday season. So again, thank you and I will see you next time.