Chosen Family Holiday

I’m going to start this blog off by saying that I’m privileged to be on good terms with my immediate family.

That being said, I won’t be seeing them on Christmas Day this year. It was the same last year, too. It’s only because I live a few states away from them and it’s important to us to have our son wake up in our house on Christmas. We were able to get away with it when he was younger, but now that he’s got a working memory we want to foster the tradition of having Christmas morning at home.

And even though we got accustomed to it in the depths of the pandemic, we won’t be alone for the holidays this year either, thanks to my chosen families.

A chosen family is, by some definitions, “nonbiological kinship bonds, whether legally recognized or not, deliberately chosen for the purpose of mutual support and love.” My chosen families are both my circle of dear friends and my wife’s family.

We’ll be spending Christmas Eve with my circle of close friends, who have begun the tradition of hosting a dinner party. This one means a lot to me because I grew up spending Christmas Eve with my mother’s large family, comprised of a ridiculous amount of aunts and uncles and cousins filling my grandparents’ house to the brim. This gathering, while not comparable in size (and thank goodness because I couldn’t deal with a family gathering that big now that I’m in my forties) it is comparable in spirit. I’m so close to the people in this circle that we consider each other family anyway, so it feels natural and right to spend a major holiday with them.

I realize I may be flubbing the definition of a chosen family a bit by including my in-laws, but it’s my blog and I’m counting it because my wife chose me as her husband and her family chose to accept me as a member of theirs. We’ll be spending Christmas Day with my brother-in-law and his family, which is great because my boy will get to play with his cousins.

I’ll be visiting my immediate family in January, anyway. We did it last year as a sort of Second Christmas and honestly it worked out way better. There was no holiday traffic to deal with and the spirit of the gathering was the same. As families grow and spread out, the intent of the gathering is more important than the date. It’s similar to having a chosen family; the intent of the bond is more important than the biological ties.

Now that I’m thinking about it, Second Christmas might become a new holiday tradition for us. If you can have chosen families you can have chosen holidays, too!