Moving Christmas: Holidays After Divorce


Christmas is gone, so why am I bothering with a Christmas post? Now is the time of year that even the most die-hard Christmas fans begin to allow those God-awful Christmas car commercials to get to us. We want them to end. We are pondering taking down the tree and trying to figure out whether the kids will throw a bigger fit if we let them help or just strip the thing naked while they sleep. So why am I insisting on dragging this out? To give you an idea of what my Christmas was like.

Many of us end up splitting Christmas across our various families, in-laws, and traditional destinations. It’s the way of things this day and age. And, although sad but true, there is an ever growing number of us that split our personal Christmas due to divorce. This year I fall in with these ranks, troopers, all of us. I have one daughter and one ex and guess who landed custody over this particular holiday? Yep, the ex. I knew about this well in advance. I got Thanksgiving this year and he was going to get Christmas.

So when he showed up at 3 pm on Christmas Eve, I was not the least little bit surprised. It’s been long enough since the split and the custody order that the transfer from parent to parent has become less awkward. I, as a mother, feel that pang of separation each and every time. But it is no longer crippling and I, occasionally, find myself looking forward to weekends that my ex-husband takes her. Hey, don’t judge me. Any mom on here is grateful for those brief moments when someone else is wholly responsible for the children. Not just in the other room with Dad or Grandma, but out of the house with the promise of ten minutes to yourself and at least one opportunity to go potty all by yourself, uninterrupted and undisturbed.

But this time, 3 pm on Christmas Eve, well, it was a little harder. Yes, it was technically no different than any other time, but it was my first major holiday away from my daughter since her birth. I woke up on Saturday morning and it was just Saturday morning. We (my mom and I) went to see Tron and were blessed with a blissfully empty theater since everyone else was occupied with presents and turkey and candy canes. I wondered how many other Christmas-celebrators were skipping Christmas this year. Or at the very least, moving it.

I was the child of divorced parents but Christmases were never an issue. My dad never upheld the custody agreement so I always knew where I would wake up on Christmas morn. A fellow GeekMom writer said that she had the opposite side of the coin as a divorce kid. With four sets of family all expecting to provide her the bestest Christmas evah, the holidays were hairy for her. I solved the problem this year by simply moving Christmas. My daughter was able to fully enjoy the day with her dad and I made myself okay with celebrating our Christmas on Monday. It was easier than I expected and harder at the same time. Actually being divorced hasn’t been the emotional issue thus far. I kind of saw that coming. Being a divorced mom is the hard part and it was never harder than on Saturday morning when I looked in my daughter’s room and knew that she was having an experience that I could not, could never, be a part of. That will happen more and more often, I know. This was a first for me. It will get better. Not easier. Just better.

I moved Christmas. As a divorced parent, we do things differently sometimes. Add being a geek to the mix and even the mythology gets different. To ease my own qualms with adapting the mythology of Santa, I concocted a whole story as to why Santa felt the need to visit Momma’s (that’s me) house two days after Christmas Eve. My daughter is three and it didn’t make a bit of difference to her. There were goodies in her sock and presents under the tree, it was good for her. All my worrying amounted to nothing and we had a fantastic Christmas two days late. We moved Christmas. Did you?

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4 thoughts on “Moving Christmas: Holidays After Divorce

  1. This is exactly what we did (in spirit anyway!) We did our Christmas the weekend before. You totally did the right thing. Sure, the day is significant, but vieing for your 15 minutes of fame on December 25th is just going to lead to headaches for all involved.

    Heck, my husband’s daughters were originally scheduled to be with us that weekend (he has 50/50 custody, it was the tail end of one of his weeks) but they’d been with us for the past three years on Christmas morning, and their mother wanted to take them up to her mom’s for Christmas. Totally fair, so they swapped. And the girls got two weekends of Christmas out of the deal. What kid doesn’t want that?! 🙂

    On Christmas Eve, my husband and I made sushi, drank too much wine, and slept in for Christmas morning. You make your own celebrations when and how you can, with what you’re given.

  2. It’s been ten years of split Christmases…my daughter, now 12, goes to her dad’s every Christmas Day at 2pm. He lives an hour and a half away, so we leave by noon. Early on in our split, before the official divorce and custody, we had to negotiate thru our attorneys for the holidays. Major PITA, and of course there were a couple of Christmases I didn’t have her on Christmas morning. I focused on making MYSELF happy, doing what *I* wanted to do for the day — movies, seeing family, etc. It helps. I’m happy the custody order gave me Christmas Eve/Christmas morning every year, but it’s still hard to pack up at noon on the day in order to get her to her dad. It was a lot harder when she was younger, but you will find thing will actually get easier AND better as time goes on. And you will have Christmas morning next year (it sounds like), so that is something to look forward to.

    And I would never judge someone who looks forward to the weekends she is childless while her ex takes the kids…single parenting is hard work, and it’s all you, ALL. The. Time. A break is nothing to be ashamed about wanting. 🙂

    Happy New Year to you. I enjoy reading your column, and wish the best for you in this new life journey. 🙂

  3. Just read your posting on moving Christmas. Wanted to tell you how touching it was. I am remarried now but had similar holidays and birthdays in the past. The children from that marriage seemed to have survived just fine.

    And so did their mom, thanks for sharing.

  4. This year we had the first separate Christmas. We were right through very amicamble divorce, filed it through to avoid extra money waste and I I thought, I could spend it better than I did, however it was harder than I expected. At such moments, loneliness and the need to return to former life are very acute. The psyche clinged to pleasant memories and partially displaced the fact of divorce. And then, there was sadness, anger and powerlessness. Of course, all emotions are less intense than before, but they create an invisible connection with my ex. And also, all those feelings imperceptibly immerse you in the past, pulling you out of the present.

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