One lesson I learned quickly as a parent is that after you have children relatives become exponentially more interested in your presence. Suddenly great aunts and third cousins you haven’t spoken to in years emerge from the woodwork and are ringing your phone trying to schedule time to stop by for a visit. Well, it’s not exactly your company they desire, but that of your baby. I can’t say I blame them, my children are highly adorable, but it does make the holidays much more stressful.
My husband and I are both children of divorce which means that this time of year we have to find a way to accommodate four sets of grandparents. Just thinking about the chaos makes me want to cancel Christmas. Then I remember we will also have the opportunity to enjoy four turkey dinners and my heart grows three sizes and suddenly I’m singing “Joy to the World.”
Today we will celebrate Thanksgiving with my mother. Traveling to four homes on the actual holiday is a feat we swore off on that first Thanksgiving as parents when we spent more time in the car than we did visiting. It was an amateur mistake. Now we start the festivities early.
More recently this blended and extended family has resulted in a few questions from Anders. He is almost five now and has begun trying to understand family relationships. It’s been challenging trying to find simple but honest ways to explain things like divorce and remarriage, girlfriends and boyfriends, why we call one set of grandparents grandpa and grandma and another grandpa and Mrs. Sherry.
I’m doing the best I can to navigate it all — the crazy of the holiday season, the careful balance each branch of our family requires, and the probing questions of an almost five year old boy who is just trying to make sense of it all along with me.
Do you have a large family? How do you handle the stress of visiting them all during the holidays? I’d love to hear how others are making this work.