If you’ve been following my posts about blending intercultural families and even raising kids with two cultures , I thought it was only appropriate to chat about how we can do both over the holidays. It can be a tough thing to do, blending the two cultures, but there is such a beautiful result, and I promise it is worth the effort!
In my family, as I’ve shared with you, we have two cultures already present. On top of that, we live in a third culture that neither of us own. By default, that culture is a big part of our lives now which makes it even harder to have the other two equally represented. However, as with most things, what isn’t easy is often worth the effort when you work for it. Having kids who are open to different cultures and traditions in addition to accepting of the way others live is a beautiful thing. As parents, I’ve found that we can often learn from our children.
Here are my tips for blending cultures during the holidays.
1.) Slow down
This applies to all of us. The holidays can get out of control if you let them. I think it’s good practice to slow down. How does this apply to intercultural families? Well, if you are busy trying to celebrate one holiday, imagine what it’s like adding another to the mix! Slow down and enjoy the love and laughter that the holidays bring, appreciate one tradition at a time and make sure your kids understand the significance of each.
2.) Pick and choose
I am a firm believer that no one can do it all. And honestly, that’s okay. This is true for families celebrating one culture and those of us honoring multiple cultures. You might not get to celebrate every tradition within each culture. You might have to either let some slip through the cracks or at least celebrate them in a lesser way. Acknowledge them, but don’t make a huge deal out of them. I think it would be important for the couple to sit down and talk about which ones are the ones that they want to do big and which ones will they do minimally. And you know what ladies and gentlemen? It is OKAY. I give you permission to not do it all.
3.) Be adventurous
Even though I always talk about how blending cultures is so beautiful and so worth it (which it is), it is still tough! It is hard to let go of what you know to be ‘normal’ for someone else’s normal. It can be hard to let those new things into your life and make them yours as well. In a intercultural marriage/relationship I think it is important to let go of what you know to be normal. Let go of what you’re parents did or what your family did and create a new normal for your own family. Be willing to explore, incorporate new traditions and create traditions that solely belong to you and your family.
4.) Mix and match
I know I just said you have to choose. Now what happens if you can’t choose? What happens with something like Christmas which most cultures celebrate in some way and a lot of cultures do it quite differently? Well, mix and match! Create your own version of Christmas! A version where the two worlds combine to create this wonderful blend all on it’s own. You will end up creating amazing memories that are so special and unique to your family.
My husband comes from The Bahamas. They have a huge parade the day after Christmas called Junkanoo. It’s what they do at Christmastime. Now, we can’t really celebrate Junkanoo at Christmas because we’re never in The Bahamas that time of year, but you better believe my husband brings that home! You can find my boys jammin’ to Junkanoo music the day after Christmas ever year.
5.) Take a trip
Most of the time there is a culture in the relationship that is less represented. In our house it’s the Bahamian culture. Not because I don’t want it in our lives but because I am the one that does most of the planning and things for holidays and my husband is more relaxed. He often doesn’t chime in with his own family’s experiences. What we want to do (when it’s feasible for us) is take a trip to The Bahamas during Christmastime so the boys and I can really experience a true Bahamian Christmas.
Now you might not have to travel to another country, or it simply might not be possible, but try to put it on your list. Alternatively, maybe you live close to an area that has a “little ___ town” and you can get a sample of what it would be like. It’s of course always good to get to experience things first hand, but hey, sometimes you need to be creative!
6.) Be willing to give
Your holiday doesn’t always have to win. Your tradition might be the one that has to change a bit. And that’s okay. Even though it’s hard at first, the result will be worth it.
This was especially hard for me. I grew up in a great family with amazing parents. I am a Daddy’s girl, so when I married my husband I had a lot of expectations for him. Not only was he not my dad, he was from an entirely different world. Once I started learning to embrace him and everything he brings with him, things became so much easier & a whole lot better. I gave up the things I thought an ‘American dad/husband’ should look like and embraced the dad & husband that he was/is. Give a little on your idea of what things should look like for what your world will look like when you blend your holidays together!
There you go! I would love to hear how you blend your families together for the holidays. Even if you don’t have two cultures in your life, you still most likely have two families and even that can be hard sometimes! What do you do to make sure everyone is represented during the holidays?
Most importantly, enjoy & love each other!