This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Holiday traditions

A great blogger at Living with RAD, brought up an intriguing thought. When our kids first came to live with us it was right before the holidays. Coming from a blended family myself, and having read everything I could, it did occur to me that the new kids probably had holiday traditions that they would want to continue. I didn't want them to feel left out or excluded by our family traditions, inside jokes, and other things like that.

Try as I might I couldn't get much out of them beyond that they celebrated Christmas (versus Hannukah or something else - or nothing). They did not, of course, still believe in Santa Claus

At the time I was positive that Ponito still believed in Santa, and actually thought 10 year old Bob might too. (Shh! Don't tell, but I still believe in Santa too!). So I informed the new kids early on that Santa only came if you believed in him, so if they didn't believe in him that was fine, but they were to keep it to themselves if they wanted Santa presents. (Reading this makes it sound like I was threatening or blackmailing them - I don't think I came across as the Godfather). Still I didn't want them to shatter the younger kid's dreams just to prove they were mature and smart. I do think that Kitty told Bob anyway.

Still, all 4 of my kids are smart and NO ONE has told me they don't believe in Santa. We did go through a short period where Kitty accused me of lying to her, and one of her examples was Santa. I hope I've since been able to reassure her that I do not lie.

We came up with some new traditions for holidays too, but kept some of the old ones that all the kids really like. When we were little, my dad and stepmom always let us open 2 gifts on Christmas Eve. One was a toy (because we couldn't wait - though this stopped as we got older), and one was from "Nana" whom I had never met (Stepmom's Grandma I think). "Nana's gift" was always a pair of PJs to be worn Christmas Eve. I love this tradition and now include a book too. None of my kids, bio or otherwise know who Nana is, but this is a tradition they don't want to stop.

When Hubby and I got married I was wondering what traditions would stay, and what we would adapt. Discovered his family had very few traditions and he was easy.

A one time event that the kids actually cemented into a family tradition is the "Christmas picture." One year Bob had a big growth spurt and the dress we'd picked for Christmas pictures didn't fit. So with less than an hour until our scheduled appointment time with our favorite cousin/ photographer we rushed to the nearest thrift store. They had almost nothing in Bob's size, but when we looked at adult sizes it turned out that one of the evening gowns fit (length didn't matter for the picture). It was on sale, and there was a matching scarf that covered her bare shoulders. Gorgeous. We bought it and ran.

The next year the new kids had arrived and Bob bragged about the evening wear the year before. Kitty was fascinated and instantly a new tradition was born. That year I let the girls wear old evening gowns of mine. Obviously I was so focused on the girls that I didn't pay attention to what the boys wore.

Fixed that the next year.

More of the same the following year. The girls are growing so fast we have to find new dresses every year. Luckily bridesmaid dresses are easy and pretty cheap at thrift stores. The boys are miserable though.
So how do you stop a tradition that is going out of control?!! This year I want to do something casual, but can't get anyone to agree. The girls insist on continuing with evening wear. The boys (all 3 of them) hate it. *sigh*
Ok, I got off topic! Anyway, we were talking about family traditions that include the kids. While writing this post I read Social Wrkr 24/7's latest series of blog posts starting with this one. It really hit home and seemed to really go with this post. I advise checking it out!
So what family tradition could you not live without? How have you accomodated your child's needs? We've scaled back a lot. I've completely chunked most of Halloween. We only have 3 presents each on Christmas day. Even birthdays are scaled back. Some of that is the economy and the fact that we now have twice as many kids, but really it's mostly because that's what Kitty and Bear need, and all I have the energy for.


Adelaide Dupont said...

What about Hawaiian shirts?

And leis for the girls?

(I know this is a more 'summery' tradition than would be suitable for the Christmas/Yuletide season).

Mama Drama Times Two said...

What beautiful pictures!!! I had wondered why you were all so dressed up in your blog profile photos...I figured all y'all were from the south or something and that's how you dressed everyday..You can tell us New Englander's by our Family Photos - we are all in snowsuits and fleece...Thanks for explaining.

Dia por Dia said...

Don't know if you like the idea or are familiar with it but in many Latin American countries the men's "dress" shirt is called a "Guayabera." They are even worn by the groom for weddings. You can do a search for "guayaberas" or "Cuban/Mexican wedding shirts" if you aren't familiar with them and see what you think. My boys love them and are wearing them in their baptism pictures on my blog (posted on6/20/09.) Good luck figuring this out.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful pictures! What if the boys wore sweaters? That would still look nice without making them miserable.

Or have a more casual pose -- barefoot -- that would make them feel a little more relaxed?

Anonymous said...

Find out what about the formal wear the guys don't like. Is it fit, color, ties, fuss, too hot ... it may be you can change things to be more agreeable ...

Or maybe do an alternate-years thing. If the guys can agree on a photo-worthy alternative ...