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How To Eat Two Christmas Dinners: Growing Up With Two Families At Christmas

Family of Cai

Cai has grown up with separated parents and he has been thinking about what that’s like around this festive season.

Not many kids get to say that Santa visits them twice.

‘So… does that mean you get extra presents?’ was the most-asked question I got around Christmas when people found out my parents were divorced. It was the biggest perk that a child could hope for. You wake up in one house, get presents, then travel over to another and get more presents. Not many kids get to say Santa visits them twice.

When I was very young, my parents divorced. Naturally, I had no real idea of what was going on and for as long as I can remember, my mum and dad have been separated. Unsurprisingly, it feels normal to me. I grew up living to a schedule – Monday nights and every other weekend, I stay at my dad’s – and getting used to living between two houses. There were good times and bad times, but it’s a part of me I embrace.

I spend the afternoon dashing through the snow back and fourth to see different family members.

Christmas is one of those funny times of year when it makes me think about it more. When we’re bombarded with images of jolly nuclear families sitting round fires wearing matching Christmas jumpers, I can’t help wonder how my happy dysfunctional family fit into that picture. I knew I wasn’t alone because I had grown up with friends whose parents were also separated – there were plenty of us. It felt like my Christmas was different to what the media portrayed. Instead of relaxing after Christmas dinner, I spend the afternoon dashing through the snow, back and forth, to see different family members.

‘Right, so I’m going to go Christmas shopping with my sister on Christmas eve till 3pm, then I’m heading over to my dads for the Christingle service at the church, then it’s back to his to chill with my dad’s parents and step-mums relatives. Spend Christmas morning with my grandparents and half-sisters – with my step-aunt popping over for a bit – before a big Christmas dinner with everyone on my dads side until my mum picks us up to go back to hers. There we see my other grandparents before driving over to their house to spend time with my aunts, uncles and cousin. Catch up with my sister in the morning on Boxing Day before heading over to visit my mum’s boyfriend’s family and church with them.’
– An excerpt of my Christmas plans that’s not too far from the truth

After eating a Christmas dinner at one house, it’s very easy to convince people that you definitely need some of that leftover roast turkey and stuffing.

Extra presents are not something to be sniffed at, and it’s been the source of excitement for many years, as is the amount of food that it’s possible to consume. After eating a Christmas dinner at one house, it’s very easy to convince people that you definitely need some of that leftover roast turkey and stuffing. If there’s ever a day to over indulge its Christmas, and I always intend to use that excuse to it’s maximum.

Getting older though, I’ve found it more of a challenge. Balancing me-time with family and friends is always tricky, but it can be hardest around Christmas and when you have twice as much family that you want to visit. All of a sudden I don’t have to go round at 5pm on Christmas day. I don’t have to be picked up by my mum. I can make my own decisions and I miss the schedule.

Whilst it’s tricky orchestrating Christmas Day to fit within so many different peoples plans, it’s become part of my Christmas Traditions. I’m not sat round the fireplace in that picture perfect Christmas scene, but I’m surrounded by my family – dysfunctional or not. I get to cherish Christmas mornings with my younger sisters as they peek into the living room – excited that Santa has been. I get to play our silly Christmas games with my mum’s family. I get to devour my dad and step-mum’s delicious Christmas lunch and enjoy cheesy footballs with my mum. Sure – my Christmas has its ups and downs but I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Do you have any thoughts or opinions? Do you have an unconventional family dynamic? How do you find spending time with the family around Christmas? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter

If you don’t have a place to stay and can’t turn to family to help, Bristol Nightstop can help you out.

Have a Merry Christmas