During the holidays, we are often reminded of what we are missing: our family of origin, our original nuclear family (the one before the divorce), friends or family that have moved or passed away. We may long for those bygone days where life or families seemed better, simpler or more complete. But I have made the mistake more than once of taking for granted what was right before my eyes because I was longing for the past or wishing for the future.
I’m not doing that this year. Though there was something sweet and unblemished by gatherings of the original nuclear family during the holidays, I am enormously grateful for our blended family get-togethers. I would never say one is better or worse than the other. They’re simply different and full of their own magical wonders.
Here are the reasons I love blended family get-togethers:
- New people to get to know and love
- New traditions to share
- Breaking old, dysfunctional patterns between existing family members (or potential to develop healthier dynamics)
- Opportunities for new, and usually very interesting, interpersonal dynamics between new and existing family members
- Experiencing relationships in a different context (holiday, party, group, etc.)
- New ideas, perspectives and talents
I know. There are downsides too. But if a blended family is your reality, why focus on the downsides? Taking a positive approach will make you a better problem-solver to manage the downsides, logistically or emotionally.
So give your blended family member a big hug and welcome their presence in your life. Remember, love is not a zero-sum game. Harold Kushner (How Good Do We Have To Be?) says that original sin is believing that there is not enough love to go around. Opening your heart to a new person does not detract or diminish in any way from the love you feel for someone else. We have an unlimited capacity to love, and that capacity grows with use. Be willing to reach out and accept your new family member, especially if you have not yet done so or if you’re not sure it will be reciprocated. Your personal leadership will set the right tone for yourself and other family members now and for the future. You might as well; after all, you’re likely going to be together a long, long time.