When you think back to your childhood, what is the most cherished tradition your family shared?
For the past three years, I’ve been in the business of making memories and new traditions with my stepkids. Tonight I’m breaking out the Christmas tree, wrapping presents and making froooozen hot chocolate to celebrate my family’s third annual Christmas in July! The idea for this tradition started in the summer of 2011. Adrenal fatigue landed me in the hospital and as I cried through my third round of blood draws, a specialist kindly suggested that I write down everything that was causing me undue stress. Where do I begin? I thought…My mind scrolled through every year of life I shared with my husband after inheriting his two children by marriage. Every birthday celebration…every holiday…seemed to be extra complicated and chaotic with shared custody. Christmas was especially difficult. The kids bounced back and forth like ping pongs during the craziest time of the year to share time with two sets of parents who loved them equally and drove themselves crazy to prove it. Some years we had the kids on Christmas Day, some years we didn’t. The inconsistency made it hard to create fun family traditions we could count on.
So I decided to create my own tradition. On July 24, 2012, I surprised my stepkids with a Christmas in July. When they walked through the door, Amy Grant’s “Home for Christmas” was playing, the stockings were hung and there were presents wrapped for each kid under our brightly lit Christmas tree. I rented National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and whipped up frozen hot chocolate. My husband rolled his eyes but I convinced him this could serve a dual purpose: We could move most of the retail celebration of Christmas to July so that we could focus on service projects and celebrating the true spirit of Christ’s birth in December…AND we were creating OUR OWN fun family tradition. Totally untouched by a shared custody schedule. Totally weird and wacky. This is MY love letter to my stepkids. My stepdaughter told me the other day it’s one of her favorite days of the year! It’s silly…yet significant. I can’t give them a consistent Christmas every December. But I can give them a Christmas in July.
What new tradition have you created in your stepfamily?