When I was young and I thought of the few kids I knew whose parents were split, I often felt a little bad for them at Christmastime. I had it in my head that their Christmases couldn’t be as good as mine because they didn’t have both parents with them on the day. I grew up thinking the nuclear family was “normal,” thus assuming any differential was “bad.”
Anyway, it wasn’t until I was a fully formed adult that I saw this from an entirely different perspective. I started dating a man who had four kids. We moved in together, and for the first year his kids would be getting two Christmases. I was terrified about everything. What if they saw though those cheap knockoff toys we could barely afford? What if they didn’t like my cooking? What if they felt weird around my parents? What if they missed their mom? None of my fears were warranted. They loved the toys and the food and my family. No one asked for mom, likely in the same way no one asked for dad three days later when they were back home. If they have taught me nothing else these past 9 years, it is this: live in the moment. Love the person you’re with as hard as you can, and don’t worry about tomorrow.
M tells me he doesn’t really recall much of Hubs and their mother being together. He was only 5 when they split. The others remember almost nothing, especially K who was only 10 months when we first met. So, for them, two Christmases is “normal.” It makes me think back on my preconceived notions of childhood. It makes me reevaluate the idea of family that was ingrained in me from birth.
This weekend was Kiddo Christmas. My parents and sister came over and we had a little party. We had snacks and drinks and presents galore. My theme for Christmas this year was “take a freaking shower.” Everybody got a towel, body wash, loofah, deodorant, and body spray. We got four kids in the throes of puberty and I will not tolerate a stinky child. They also got tablets from the aunts and uncles, cases for them from Bern, and headphones from their father, amongst other goodies. I’ve heard no complaints.
This morning the boys are playing Call of Duty on the PlayStation. E is listening to music on her tablet and K is coloring wither new gel pens. Everyone is happy and getting along, and it makes me glad that this is the way I start my Christmas season every year. It also makes me chuckle at my former naiveté, when I was little and thought that a family came off an assembly lime like one of Santa’s toys. The new “normal” is beautiful according to me.