It’s that time of year again.  The holidays.  This isn’t going to be a cynical post about the Holly Jolly Spirit, because I, for one, love the holidays and find it offensive when people say “tis the season” like it’s time for their annual rectal exam.  I do, however, understand how stressful this time of year can be.  Our expectations run rampant, out time runs short, and our patience runs thin.  Now add in family.  Even if you get along well with your family, putting everyone in one under such conditions is like a peppermint flavoured Molotov cocktail.
I try to write a yearly Survival Guide for poly families.  Unfortunately, last year I broke my arm two days after Thanksgiving and wasn’t doing much of anything before Christmas but left-handed, pain-killer inspired gift shopping on the internet.  It was a unique year for Clan Clifford.
In any case, I am a more traditional person than people seem to expect around the holidays, possibly because my mother was, and this is my way of connecting with her every year.  In the process we have also developed our own family traditions, and as our tribe grows those new traditions become vital to our cohesion and culture.
New forms of Old Traditions
This year we made the decision to include the entire household on our family holiday card.  While we are open about our poly lifestyle, aside from our wedding day we have not been so brazen as to present it to anyone giving us more than a surface glance, in the same way that we are pagan but have yet to send a Yule card with a pentagram printed on it.  This year I expect questions, especially from those who are not as accepting.
When Hubby and I first met I started the tradition of getting us an ornament every year.  I still do, but in addition I get one for the whole family.  I love the unique personality this gives our tree, and it’s a good reminder that while our family has been through some rough patches and changed shape over the years we have made some amazing memories, and we continue to thrive.
Another trend we’ve noticed for the past several years, even though it hasn’t been a decided tradition, is Hubby and I seeing a movie together on Christmas after all the chaos has settled.  It gives us a chance to relax and enjoy each other’s company without thinking too much.  There’s also generally a photo booth around, which is one of my not so secret addictions, so we’ve got a fun little archive of our Christmas movie activity.
New (to us) Traditions
So, this year, Ralph and I decided we wanted an Elf on the Shelf.  While the rest of the family finds it creepy and disturbing, we are having a blast with her, mostly because her actions are the product of our slightly twisted inspiration, but also because I can share her benign activities with my stepson, with whom I hardly get a chance to see and connect, via email.  It’s really given us a way to stay playful and a bit mischievous, reminding us that the holidays are about our inner child’s spirit as much, if not more so, than it’s about the chaos and everything looking like a Better Homes cover.
This is also the first year I’ll be going to a partner’s house on Christmas.  While we have had A at our family events, she’s become a familiar face to our family, and it’s always been as a group, not as a couple.  With the actual holiday falling in the middle of the week, it makes little to no sense for me to take the day off to travel home only to have to be back the following day for work, so the family will meet that morning and I’ll be going with Ralph that night.  It will be a bit an adjustment, as Christmas Eve has always been extremely important to me and Hubby, but one we are willing to try out this year.
My advice to you?  Stop stressing about the details. When it comes down to it, the holidays should be about togetherness and family.  Even if there’s a spiritual aspect to your holiday experience, the exact date is less important than the spirit in which you celebrate, especially if members of your household celebrate different holidays.  My second piece of advice?  Enjoy yourself.  Stop worrying about what everyone else thinks or does, and celebrate our holidays your way.  Make tacos.  Go to the movies.  Have a bonfire.  Drive some go-karts.  Do what you do, and make some memories as a family.
Next week I’m giving you all a special gift, your family’s guide to surviving your poly family during the holidays.  Disseminate it as you wish.