Hey, friends,
So I have a quick question:

My husband and I are essentially separated but still living in the same house. My marriage of over 25 years effectively came crashing to an end this past summer. For the time being, for a number of reasons not all of my choosing, we are cohabitating, me living in the guest room at the opposite end of the house from him, and co-parenting our 17 year-old youngest child who still lives at home.

For Christmas, the celebration is always at my house. My sister, who now knows the truth about my marriage being over and why, and her family will be coming in from Wisconsin. My mother (who knows nothing of the split yet because she is difficult under the best of circumstances) and my uncle will be there too. My three children and daughter-in-law will be there. Some other family friends may join us as well, so maybe about 15 people. Every year for my married life , Christmas has been like this:

Formal dinner around the long dining room table, then adjourning to the living room for hot cocoa and eggnog by the fireplace with desserts, Christmas music, and exchanging presents with the whole, big extended family. After the ritual gift exchange, we playing games like Apples to Apples, Pictionary, etc. It's been a family tradition to do Christmas this way, a lot of time together, laughing, talking, singing, teasing, etc. But now while my nearly ex-husband does not feel anything has changed for him, my children, esp. my oldest, do NOT want to go through what they feel will be an awkward charade of pretense. Something forced and fake, ignoring the 5000 pound elephant and it's leavings. . . .

SOO . . . With almost everything being closed on Christmas day, any advice on how to get through this without interminable hours of smiling and everything being nearly, but not quite normal? If you watch Stranger Things, imagine a Christmas family dinner in The Upside Down, those freaky white snowflake things might be seasonably apt and the blinking lights too, but its not the same . . . Still, I don't have to pretend to love my family and feel blessed to be surrounded by them, but acting like everything is okay/"normal" in the family when it is not and pretending for hours is not good either, for any of us. On the other hand, I don't want my kids to have a bad memory of a last family Christmas together with their dad and me.

SO . . . maybe I cater instead of planning/cooking a big meal days in advance? Maybe I not decorate to the same extent with all of the same traditional decorations I've put out every year? Maybe instead of the enormous fake tree that sits in the same corner of the living room every year, I get a modest, living tree in a pot to plant in the backyard after the holidays? Maybe we NOT sit around the living room for hours? Maybe we pile in cars and go drive to see Christmas lights? Anybody have any other "fresh" traditions/ideas so we not all feel like we are the Stepford family?

*We also celebrate Haunnauka. I am ethnically Jewish (husband is Mexican American Catholic so we are a "blended" family). I will keep Haunnauka--the symbolism of light in the darkness is too important to me, and this is a time to give thanks to G-d. So, I will light the menorah, say the blessings with my daughter in Hebrew and English, but I may not make scratch latkes, kasha, kugel, mazo-ball soup, etc., and I don't want to sit around the living room playing dredel for gelt or reading the family traditional Jewish folk tales every night for eight nights as I normally do. . . . Again, advice on how to mix things up is truly appreciated.

Thank you!
Wondering what you ended up doing and how you felt.