This is definitely a tough and very emotional situation. If you have a loving and supportive partner, it’s a lot easier but still not easy. There is not a lot you can do to change how his girls feel about you, other than to be consistent and kind in your way of relating to them. Over time, this may make a difference as they get older, mature, and understand more about life.
In the best of all worlds, the division would be fair and equal and all parties would have an equal voice about what happens during the holidays. It sounds like this is not the best of all worlds, so you will need to adjust your expectations accordingly. I heard a wise saying once: You can choose to be right or you can choose to be happy. While there are certainly times when it is both necessary and appropriate to take a stand on an issue, in this situation you may best be served by putting the larger good of the family ahead of your individual preferences.
While it’s not easy to give up your attachment to a certain tradition–for example, having a special dinner on Christmas Eve with the whole family– that is actually only one of several possible ways to celebrate the holidays. The most successful overall solution to the problem may involve putting your ego needs second to the realities of the current relationship circumstances. Second best is not always just second best after all.
It’s certainly OK to talk about what you want with your partner, but when it comes to negotiating things with the girls’ mother, that should be his responsibility and he can take heat for whatever happens with his ex. It would probably be wise to arrange some time for the girls to hang out with just their father as well as with both of you. After all, the girls already love him and you are still a question mark in their minds. When it comes to negotiating with your own ex-partner, this is your responsibility. Your husband gets to have input, but ultimately you have to take responsibility for your choices and decisions involving your children and your ex.
The holidays are a highly charged time of the year, but you can either make them more charged or focus on the parts of the holiday season that you can make rewarding and pleasant for you and those you love. At this time of year, a combination of healthy self-esteem and healthy humility in the face of forces larger than yourself will lead you to the best possible solutions. And this year’s solutions may look very different than next year’s. Even if what emerges is not what you wanted to happen, there is still plenty of joy to be savored if you hold your needs and expectations with a loose hand and an open heart.