I once thought the holidays would be easier when I had my own family. I didn’t know that grandparents would have expectations about when they got to see their grandkids. I didn’t know that Christmas would still be shuffling back and forth between my parents’ homes hoping not to upset anyone. I didn’t know that I’d have to explain to my children for many years why I have two sets of parents.

When my children were small, I thought all of the grandparents would like a photo calendar of the children for Christmas. I put together the best pictures from the first three years of their lives. When I flipped through the pages, I realized couldn’t give it to my parents. One of the pictures had my mom and stepdad in it. Another one had my real dad. Everyone would be offended. I kept the calendars, and a day later I bought everyone generic gift cards and a box of chocolates.