The Bright Side of the Christmas Tree

Christmas StockingTwo years ago, I had hope – still a nuclear family of four.

One year ago, the bomb had exploded, the pieces were being picked up, and I had my first divorced/single mom Christmas.

But it was my year to have the boys on actual Christmas day. As per part of our divorce decree, we flip back and forth each year – both always having time with the kids over the holidays, but only one or the other having the actual eve and day.

As this year’s big day approached – my first Christmas without my children – at first I was like, “Meh! What’s in a date? Christmas is in the heart!” I’ve watched enough Christmas specials in my life to have that old chestnut (roasting over an open fire) drilled into my head. My family’s all willing to save the celebration for when Nathan and Joey get back. So no biggy.

Then it started to hit a bit – depression. I’m going to be a sad 40-year-old lonely cat lady watching Bravo and doing virtual puzzles on an IPad for Christmas. Of course I have friends and family who would take this stray dog in if I really needed to be around people. But of course, it’s not the same as being with your own kids. Christmas was my jam as a kid, and giving those same types of happy memories to my kids was always important to me. Not having the choice is just a bitter, bitter mistletoe berry to swallow.

But here we are, Christmas Eve, and I woke up and decided to look at the bright side of the Christmas tree today. I’m certainly not alone in this world, as other divorced parents deal with the same splitting of time, ruining the happy family Christmases they once dreamed of and forcing a new holiday normal on their offspring and themselves. Even if you didn’t choose divorce, there’s plenty of guilt in the equation. But, there are also positives if you put on your reading glasses and look hard enough.

Five Reasons to Celebrate not having your Kids on Christmas

  1. Sales – Mama’s going shopping the day after Christmas. 50% off. No complaints there!
  2. Avoiding Stress – The collective societal stress out there is palpable. I went to get a chestnut praline latte this morning at the Starbucks annex in the Vons up the street and I saw panic everywhere as people hustled for their last minute groceries. “Not I,” said the little divorced mom. I can eat a sandwich for dinner on a paper plate if I want and my feet won’t hurt from cooking all day, and my blood pressure won’t rise trying to get it all done in time for company. When everyone out there is stressed, it can sometimes make you feel more so, yourself. We often participate in certain traditions because we feel like we have to fall in line, culturally. This temporary reprieve on celebrating Christmas with your kids puts you into the mindset that you don’t have to do what everyone else doing. We will still cook and celebrate, but somehow it feels like it will be more relaxed because it doesn’t HAVE to happen on a certain day at a certain time.
  3. Extra Time – Divorced procrastinators unite! When you are given a few extra days to complete something overwhelming (like Christmas shopping and wrapping) it just feels like the big test was postponed and you have more time to study. Phew!
  4. Avoiding the Post-Christmas Let Down – As I mentioned, I loved, loved, loved the Christmas season when I was a kid, but Christmas night was always kind of a bummer. It was all over. There was no more anticipation. But tomorrow night, the best will still be yet to come of the Christmas season for me and other divorcees who didn’t get Christmas with their kids this year.
  5. New Year’s Eve – So I don’t get actual Christmas this year, but I do get New Year’s Eve, which is harder to fake. Unless you show your kids the ball dropping on YouTube from a previous year. Which I did once at 10pm to convince Nathan and Joey that they’d stayed up until midnight. (Didn’t go over very well!) But this year, I will get a little peck on the cheek from the two handsomest, sweetest little devils I’ve ever known when 2015 comes along. Now that’s something to look forward to!

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