It sounds kind of woo-woo, but at least twenty or so years ago during mediation I had the thought, “You will have more children.”
That was funny. Really funny. We had two kids, I had suffered wicked post-partum depression, and my husband had gotten a vasectomy. We were done having kids—meditation message or no meditation message.
Two decades later, pancreatic cancer claimed the life of my husband when my kids were 16 and 18. When that meditation memory surfaced one day, I laughed, never believing I would ever be in a committed relationship again, let alone have more kids. Nope.
It took two years before I even stuck a toe into online dating. A few disastrous dates made me withdraw that toe—until I got a message from a very sweet man.
Another two and a half years passed before my amazing man and his awesome kid moved into my house. We are a big, weird family. His son is my surprise kid and I am his bonus adult. At least, that’s how I see it.
My New Christmas
These exciting life changes mean another kid in the house at Christmas. This isn’t the first Christmas for my kids with my guy—it will be their third time waking up to see his bearded face on Christmas morning— but it’s our first Christmas with three kids in the house. I get a little nervous some days, hoping my boyfriend’s son feels the affection I have for him, attempting to include him in traditions and hopefully creating some new ones.
In the years after my children’s dad passed, I lost interest in a lot of the decorating, baking, and trappings of Christmas. Oh, I phoned it in, but it wasn’t like it had been in the past. It was sad, because I’d always been a Christmas person.
Now, I find my spirit has returned, but in a new incarnation.
Every year while my kids were growing up, we bought a new ornament for each person in the family, with the intention that when our two grown kids left the house, they’d leave with a box of ornaments for their future homes. Now, instead of four ornaments, we buy seven. One for me, one for my boyfriend, one for each of my children, and one for his son. We also buy one for my kids’ father and—don’t laugh—one for the dog.
Creating New Holiday Traditions
My boyfriend told me I was the only person who baked for his son. I’m hoping to turn that into some new tradition this year so the five of us can create something that is just ours. Even if it’s making zombie sugar cookies or binge watching the holiday season of Nailed It! on Netflix instead of actual baking.
Christmas with a tween, when you’re forty-seven and have two grown kids, is interesting. Most kids have a wish list as long as their arm. His is short, utterly off beat, and totally him. The list includes:
He has also changed how I do things, like plot Christmas gifts for dad. I used to plunk my kids in the car and off we’d go. It’s a little different with him. The other night I texted him while he was up in his room at our house: “Is there anything you’d like to get your dad for Christmas that we can get when we go Christmas shopping?”
His response? “Not that I can currently think of.”
A year ago, I’d have been worried about approaching him at all. In fact, last year I chickened out. But that night I sat downstairs and laughed at, “Not that I can currently think of.” Things have changed—and I’m adjusting.
I’ll ask him again if there’s anything he wants for his dad. No pressure if he says no again, because I’m sure he’ll create one of his superb drawings for his dad.
There are days I look around my house and remember the pitter patter of little feet. My kids are now 22 and 20, all grown up and building their own lives. Eventually, they’ll leave for their own homes. That’s a weird thought, for sure, but it turns out my house will be inhabited by a kid longer than I had anticipated.
For a woman who once thought her Christmases would forever be just her and her kids, and maybe one day her grandkids—and yes, I admit it, a herd of Corgis—things sure have changed. I still wonder where I stand with this kid sometimes. Some days, I worry he doesn’t realize how much he and his dad mean to me—to us, really—my kids love them both. But I am extremely grateful for this weird little family of ours.
I never really believed in second chances when it came to things like true love and family … until I got one. Merry Christmas from a very grateful bonus adult.