Tips For Blending Dinner Traditions With New Families
Everyone has unique holiday dinner traditions. Even within different cultures, families have special rituals they follow every year. But when you start mixing families through new marriages, these traditions change and evolve to include everyone. It's easier for some families to do than others. Here are 4 tips for blending holiday dinner traditions with new families.
Make A Connection
Take the time to ask each person in your new family to find out what they must have and do at the holiday meal. From the ideas you collect, cobble together a menu that makes sense and uses as many elements from the holiday wish list as possible. Someone's non-negotiable might be turkey and another's might be twice-baked potatoes and someone else may insist on green bean casserole. Most everyone has a food they really enjoy during holiday meals. Try to include everything, but if it's not possible, figure out a way that everyone has some say in the preparations.
It's unrealistic to expect one person to be able to make everything exactly as it was made when they were growing up. To avoid disappointment, ask each party to make what they are willing to bring. Most people are willing to contribute, especially if it's something unique to their own experiences or dietary needs, like something from their own paleo cookbook. For those who make a request, but aren't able to make it -- like your new husband's 90-year-old grandmother or your 8-year-old niece -- ask for the recipe or see if you can find it at a specialty shop.
Hosting family events is tough even under the best of circumstances. Add challenging personalities to the mix, and it can be even more difficult. For that, you have to let go of any expectations and develop a thick skin. Encountering hard-to-please people is inevitable; taking their disappointments personally is not. It takes time for families to get to know each other and adjust. You'll have many more holiday meals to let the relationships and traditions evolve to please everyone.
The holidays are about more than sitting down to a turkey dinner and opening gifts; it's about enjoying the company of our families, both new and established. While we honor the traditions of holidays past, you can create new traditions to celebrate your new family moving forward. They don't have to be expansive traditions, they can be as simple as making special place cards for each family member to take home with them, hiding a toy bird in the house for children to find in exchange for a treat, or having each person bring a memento to hang on the Christmas tree. All of our traditions are ideas we've been building on for centuries, and starting a new tradition is a way to bring family together and help them grow and evolve for the centuries ahead.
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