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Create new traditions within each family. Perhaps Christmas Eve will become a newly festive occasion, instead of a frenzied evening of wrapping and last-minute errands. See the challenge of scheduling alternate holiday celebrations as an opportunity for new rituals and memory-making.

Decide together how you will approach holiday themes like Santa — both parents need to sound the same message.

Finally, don’t criticize the former spouse’s new holiday rituals or celebrations. Things are different from Mom’s house to Dad’s, but resist the temptation to send the message that it’s “better” at your house than at your ex’s.

Parenting as a team can be difficult for married couples and sometimes can seem impossible for couples who have separated, particularly when remarriage and stepchildren enter the picture.

But family is forever. Send your children the message that both of you still are committed to them — and make these holidays the special celebrations of love that they are meant to be.

Rebecca Hagelin can be reached at