If, after some years as a widow or widower, you’re sharing your life with someone new and possibly his or her children as well as your own, planning the Christmas holiday could be fraught with differences in expectation.
Your first Christmas together should be memorable and reflect the holiday spirit anticipated by both of you. There will be a lot to think about if you want things to run smoothly and if the pattern of Christmas-past does not hold the same appeal for either of you, then perhaps it’s time to look at your options.
Sharing this particular event for the first time, for both of you and your families, is an opportunity to combine ideas and create your own unique Christmas experiences. Some habits of course, will remain, because they are positive and fun, especially with young children in mind, as they will be expecting the same. Waking up to Christmas stockings and parcels under the tree are elements that I don’t think any of us would want to change. These are the magical moments that stick firmly in our minds and form part of our childhood memories.
If neither of you, or any other family members, are overly excited about the idea of all that cooking, then how about eating out? Hopefully, there will be a few restaurant options nearby, where you can anticipate a good feast and leave the dishwashing to someone else.
Integrating the old with the new can create a unique experience that will become your own special way of spending the holiday. Make sure that everyone, children included, is invited to make suggestions on what they would like to do.
Start as you mean to go on, and make plans for Christmas together. The shopping, and of course, the cooking, if you’re eating at home, are all tasks that can be shared in some way. If there are children around, get them to help, too. This will strengthen bonds and create a pattern for future years.
If two sets of children are involved, this is the perfect opportunity to harmonise the families. Ask them if there is something specific they would like to do, such as going for a winter outing or watching a favourite movie or TV programme. In our house we used to get the younger children to come up with an idea for a play. They would go off for a while and return with something of their own creation, which would invariably end up with a great deal of hilarity all round.
Anniversaries and holidays can often be a time of increased stress and emotional turmoil and if this is your first Christmas together you have to make allowances for this. One suggestion is sharing any upbeat stories of Christmas past; by doing this you are acknowledging that memories of your previous family celebrations are cherished. This should allay any feelings of remorse if you’re feeling guilty about celebrating a special holiday and enjoying yourself regardless of absent loved-ones.
A first Christmas together may not be the ideal time to include your bereaved partner’s parents and other family members, but if this occurs through necessity, then use the occasion to build as much of a rapport as possible. It is likely they will be as cautious as you with this arrangement, but it offers the opportunity for all parties to accept that change is inevitable. This will show that you have not forgotten their son/daughter and that any grandchildren will always be a significant presence in their lives.
If it’s just the two of you, then introducing something completely new could be a good idea and is one way of creating a unique seasonal significance to your relationship. Taking a trip to another city or planning a Christmas lunch with a difference are just two ways of breaking with tradition.
Ultimately, the holiday season is an opportunity for everyone involved to form lasting memories together. In time, these experiences will hopefully form the basis of a new chapter in your life.
If you’re single, but hopefully not alone at Christmas, do join in with family and friends and try and look to the future. There are many other widows and widowers out there looking for someone just like you and next year could be your year.
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