It's called the "December dilemma." Here, how to mix different family and cultural traditions around the holidays
Interfaith families and newly blended step-families often find themselves tiptoeing around family events, or having to manage hurt feelings.
"At the beginning I think we just thought we would celebrate everything," says Danielle Spears, 47, of Scarborough, Ontario, who is Catholic. Her first husband, who died in 1993 after a battle with cancer, was also Catholic, and they had two children, now 22 and 18. Her second husband, Jonathan, 51, is Jewish and has a daughter, Rachel, 30 from his previous marriage. "I didn't realize that something like having a nativity scene set up could be taken as offensive, especially if we had a menorah too."
But as Danielle soon discovered, holiday and religious traditions can become a battleground. "Jonathan and I had a few things to work out together, sure, and with my kids. But we muddled through. Jonathan's daughter, though, wasn't comfortable with our marriage in the first place... that first Christmas, it seemed like everything in our home was offensive to her... Even the cookies I brought her, which were actually a Jewish recipe. But I had put them in a green box."
Even families who come from similar religious backgrounds but from different cultures may find tension rising. Is a Reveillon during Christmas Eve a glorious family tradition – or unnecessarily disruptive to sleep patterns? When should the turkey be ready? And is Santa Claus a great idea – or an annoying falsehood that a consumer society perpetuates through its children?
Click through below for some tips to manage the season.
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