I know DF and I won't be the only ones in this situation this Christmas. Because, as the title suggests, Christmas in stepfamilies just aint fun. Especially when you have a BM in the mix hell bent on making sure that her child doesn't see her father at Christmas.
There is supposed to be, by court order, an arrangement that Christmas Day is split. Last year we had SD from Christmas Eve into Christmas Day and took her back on Christmas Day. We had pantomime tickets booked for Christmas Eve so SD wanted to come, and BM agreed to having her back by 4pm. So this year, DF suggested he collected her at 4pm on Christmas Day.
Not happening, apparently. SD has allegedly made the decision herself (but did not want to tell DF this herself so BM's hag of a mother did it, and took great pleasure in doing so) that she does not want to see us on Christmas Day and doesn't want to come until Boxing Day. We know full well that if SD had the choice, she'd see both parents, so this is undoubtedly the result of pressure, manipulation and guilt trips on the poor child. We can't get her until 10am on Boxing Day.
I don't get how this woman can stoop so low as to keep her child from seeing her father on Christmas Day. I KNEW they had been working on her for weeks - I could see it in her eyes, and when I said to her last weekend when she went home "See you at Christmas" she looked away. I knew then we would not be seeing her, but I hoped against hope I was wrong, for DF's sake. But BM's family make a big deal of having a huge family party at Christmas and I knew there was no way they'd agree to her leaving half way through the day. Their view is that their family is SD's main family, therefore they are the most important - as far as they are concerned, DF can go hang, he's nobody.
It's hard not to get frustrated on his behalf - and I get upset that SD can treat her dad with such disregard as well, even though logically, I know she is just a child, and faced with the kind of pressure BM and her family are probably putting on her, most children older and more mature than SD would cave. SD knows that though DF will be disappointed, he won't unleash the kind of hell that BM would if she stood her ground and said no, I want to see my Dad on Christmas Day. She knows DF will never withdraw love from her. But it's hard to see that the unshakeable confidence she has in DF never turning his back on her results in her treating him badly - because she isn't afraid of losing his love. It's hard for me to see it because I was once in the exact same position - I know how it is being between a rock and a hard place, you always end up hurting someone, because you cannot make any choices without disappointing one of the people you love. And it is one of the things that SD will have to live with as she grows up and becomes more aware of the impact her choices have. Sadly, this is the lot of children growing up in split families, I know this all too well.
There is no solution to it either, but next year I am seriously tempted just to book tickets for DF and I to the Caribbean, let BM and her cohort have their family Christmas that's so important to them they are happy to ruin ours, and we won't even show up for the battle, which would spare SD from being piggy in the middle. Of course, if we did that, they'd say we don't care about her and don't want to see her, so we can't win....but at least WE would have a peaceful Christmas knowing we won't get a phone call a few days before saying SD doesn't want to come, and having to rearrange all our plans around when BM and GrannyHag will release her to come and see her own father. Yes, the Caribbean sounds tempting. Travel brochures for 2010 anyone?