Widower Wednesday: Holiday Decorations

Here’s the first of my widower-related holiday issues. If you have a holiday subject you’d like me to address, drop me an email.


Dear Abel,

I took a leap of faith and married a widower with three teenage girls back in April. So far things have been great with only a handful of minor speed bumps along the way. With the holidays coming up, we’re hitting our first major problem: The children want to decorate the tree and house using the late wife’s decorations. While I’m not opposed to using some of her decorations, I’d like the holidays and the home to feel like we’re starting a new chapter in our lives and would like to put up some new decorations too. I talked to the widower about this and he says decorating the house was “her thing” and has left me to sort it out. I’ve talked to the daughters about it and I get the impression that they don’t want to change anything when it comes to decorating the house. I’m afraid that have only her decorations up for the holidays a living hell for me. Do you have any suggestions on how to make the holiday decorations in our home one that we all can enjoy?



Dear Emily,

I think you’re doing the right thing by wanting to mix some new decoration with the old. It seems like that’s a reasonable solution that will help everyone make your home a place where everyone can feel comfortable.

However, your husband is going to have to get a little more involved this year than normal. The holiday decorations may have been “her thing” in the past but he’s not married to her any more. Even if he wants to turn it over from you, his daughters will probably have an easier time with mixing things up a bit if he sits them down and lets them know that in addition to some of the traditional ornaments and lights, they’re going to add some new ones as well.

So here’s my two suggestions: 1) Sit the widower down and tell him that you need his help in order to make this holidays a smooth one. Emphasize how much you love him and the new family and want to make this a special time for everyone but this year he has to let the kids know that there will some new decorations thrown into the mix. In order to make this happen, he’s going to have to be a parent and lovingly talk to his kids about this subject.

2) Involve his daughters. This means letting them pick some ornaments or other decorations that they want up. While they do this make a rough list of new decorations to buy then all of you spend an afternoon shopping. Throw in lunch and a movie if that helps. Don’t make it about you but about all four of you having a good time and finding things to add holiday cheer to the house. It will give you guys a chance to bond and let the girls feel like they have a say in what kind of decorations are going up in the house.

Remember everyone is starting a new chapter this holiday season—not just you. The best way to keep everyone in the holiday spirit is to get everyone involved.

*Name changed.