Blending Families

Recently, my husband and I got into a little tiff about the number of presents under the tree. It all started when I came home from hours of shopping and excitedly showed him the deals I had gotten. At least my intention was showing him the deals I had gotten, it turned into him counting the number of gifts I had gotten for cousins and siblings. His expression was clearly underwhelmed and when I asked why, he replied "Well, we can't afford to buy gifts for your entire extended family!" Needless to say, I was crushed. I wondered why he wasn't happy, I mean this is the season for giving after all. He left and I sat around the tree wrapping the bounty of gifts I had just purchased. I thought for a long while, then I realized, our Christmastime is not the same.I grew up in a home with a single mom. My parents divorced when I was just a toddler, and I was raised by my mom and her long time boyfriend. In the past five years, my mom has remarried, but one thing has remained consistent, I am the product of a blended family. Though my original family was not traditional, there was never a marriage between my mom and her boyfriend, he raised me as his daughter. I spent holiday mornings with his family, the afternoon with my mom's side, then, if there was time, I would see my dad's family in the evening. So while I sat there at my Christmas tree, baffled by my husband's response, I realized, our family dynamics have everything to do with this. Kristian grew up in a two parent home. Christmas consisted of his sisters, his parents, homemade stockings (a Sanchez family tradition), and the usual gift exchange. I'm sure everything wasn't as Walton-esque as it sounds, but his family was normal. Well, this is my thought anyway. He did not grow up sharing holidays with grandparents that sometimes raised him, with cousins who were closer to siblings, parents who made you choose one or the other, and so on. So there I was, huffing and puffing, wrapping these presents with a complete absence of Christmas cheer, then my Aha! moment. Ultimately, he isn't mad about the money, he isn't mad that I'm buying presents, he's upset because he doesn't understand. This Christmas will be Kristian's first without his family. I'm so excited for him to see the dynamics of my family! To see first hand what being in a crazy, mixed up, blended family is like. We have three destinations for Christmas and one on Christmas Eve. My traveling pack of siblings (four in total) will probably fight over who can ride with Sissy, and Kristian will inevitably think of some quirky way to resolve the matter. I know once we're surrounded by my brood of cousins and my excessively nice aunts and uncles, Kristian will forget we ever had this tiff. I think he will come to realize how interconnected my family is. This year I think we'll both be a little more aware of the larger context of family.