I have a somewhat crazy family. I’ve got my mom’s side (Think Large, Irish, Catholic, and then Not-so-large, Russian). I’ve got my biological father’s side (ok, not really, but there are a couple of people I keep in touch with). I’ve got my stepfather-who-adopted-me-so-is-actually-my-father’s side. I’ve got my in-laws. And, possibly strangest of all, I’ve got my step-sisters’ biological mother’s side. Can’t keep it straight? No one can. But, it’s my normal, so I can’t imagine anything different.
I love having a large family and do my best to try and keep in touch with even the extended cousins on my mom’s side (thank you, Facebook). But at Christmas, it can be a bit unwieldy. We do our own Christmas at home, and then Christmas with my parents and siblings (plus their husbands & kids), and then extended family. That’s all on Christmas day. My in-laws usually have an extended family Christmas the week before, and then we celebrate with just my husband’s parents and siblings (and their spouses/kids/boyfriends/dogs) sometime within the next few days. We haven’t gotten together much with my dad’s family because it’s simply too large, but we used to have a Christmas with them, too. I typically see my grandmother on my biological father’s side at some point. And then, if we’re able, we join my sisters’ biological mother’s family. Although it sounds complex, I love them just like we were actually related. The end result is often an overabundance of Christmas.
This year, it’s feeling a bit strange. People keep telling me that they hope I had a wonderful Christmas and I reply, “Thanks, we did. But it’s not over yet!”
When I was younger, I loved the never-ending Christmas, but now that I’ve got kids I find it a bit more challenging. First of all, it’s exhausting. But more importantly, it’s hard to explain to little kids that life isn’t just about them receiving presents. Mounds of presents, no less. We’ve talked a lot about giving away old toys to kids that have none, but it turns out that it’s a lot harder to donate toys than one might imagine. We have some options, but it’s just a roadblock we’ve had to get around. Next year, I’m hoping to have the energy and time to help them make gifts for people. That way, they’ll start to learn the joys of giving, and not just receiving. In the meantime, we’ve got a couple of Christmases left to enjoy and I’m trying to give each on the attention and spirit that it deserves. After all, we’re a very lucky family to have so many people who love us, and who we love in return.