It’s Okay to Enjoy Other People’s Kids During the Holidays

Hanging out with cousin Francis and the offspring of my cousins Rob and Candace.

Dear friends,

I survived Thanksgiving. 1636 miles of driving. Four different motels. Some much-needed hugs and talks with loved ones, too much good food, and getting reacquainted with my niece, nephew, cousins, and six children ranging from five months to six years old, and two dogs. Exhausting but also wonderful. Three of the little ones were my brother’s grandchildren. The other three belong to my cousin. Thanks to Covid, the kids hadn’t seen me in two years. They weren’t quite sure who I was at first, but we worked that out. I have precious memories of playing in the sandbox, making pretend meals, snuggling, and talking. So sweet. So fun. So loud and messy. 🙂 And no, I didn’t feel bad about not having children. Maybe it’s my age, but I was able to just enjoy the children for the magical beings they are. 

Being an aunt rocks. I hope I don’t have to stay away so long next time. One of the little cousins has been video-chatting with me on Facebook messenger. It’s so fun to see her gap-toothed smile on the screen. I think I need to do more online visits. Aunt Sue is tired of driving. 

Will they come to Oregon to visit me? Maybe, maybe not. Young families are not as portable as single adults like me. Watching their struggles for a few days has opened my eyes to the challenges of parenthood that come between the cute baby phase and sending them off to college. I need to make the effort because they just don’t have the time or the energy right now. That may be true in your family, too. 

Only now that I’m back at home do I feel lonely and miss the company and the commotion. If you are finding the holidays very painful right now, believe me when I say that they will become easier as you pass menopause and move on to other possibilities. 

So, tell me. How did your Thanksgiving go? Are there things you did this year that you will not do next year? Did you try my suggestions from last week about speaking up when people say stupid things about you not having children? Please share in the comments. Thanksgiving was just the warmup. Hanukkah is happening now, and Christmas is coming at us like a runaway stagecoach. We need all the support we can get.

Hugs from Aunt Sue 

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Holidays and stepchildren

Another Thanksgiving survived. This year, instead of driving to California, we stayed home. We truly expected it to be just Fred and I and the dogs eating casually in front of the football games on TV, but at the last minute, youngest stepson Michael, whose camping trip was snowed out, informed us that he was coming–and yes, he wanted the whole turkey dinner. My initial reaction was anger, but then it started feeling like a real Thanksgiving and oh, what the heck, we got a free turkey from the grocery store and Michael offered to help with the cooking, so we did Thanksgiving, white tablecloth and all.

It was exhausting but fun.

Between cooking chores, we telephoned the relatives back in California, including Michael’s brother and sister. They were gathered with their mother and the rest of their family in Newark. Apparently they had a huge feast and a great time–as it should be. I am not their real mother and we live 700 miles away. A couple months ago, the daughter said she would bring the whole family here for the holidays, but I never really expected it to happen. That’s how it is when your husband has children and you don’t; the real mom will always get first dibs, and you’re lucky to get a phone call.

My goal these days is to become more accepting and content with life as it is. So, how was my Thanksgiving? Just fine. And yours?