When I first sat down to discuss the future of the holidays for our children I never thought tradition would be over looked. You see, my family always celebrated Christmas Day where my ex-husbands family always celebrated Christmas Eve. I thought during the divorce proceedings it was a no brainer, the children would be allowed to keep doing the same. I was wrong. During mediation I was informed it was “normal” practice to split Christmas vacation and alternate weeks every other year. I did not agree. Sadly, 17 years of tradition came to an end within a few hours. I put up a good argument but ultimately it didn’t matter. My ex-husband and the court did not care what tradition had been.
With our new dynamics, I had a lot to consider. When would we bake our cookies and put our gingerbread house together, how would worship at the church work out, when would Santa come to give them gifts if they had to leave for a week on Christmas day in the off year? These are things you don’t usually think about until they happen.
I was missing the big picture so I chose to look at the situation from different perspectives. There was a simple solution to all my questions. It wasn’t about timing it was about keeping traditions in the best possible fashion. The holidays and our traditions would be okay, we would be okay. The children would be able to enjoy these positive changes by me making them just as fun and special as they always had been. Instead of sulking and worrying over the uncontrollable I took lemons and made lemonade!
Keeping Old Traditions:
Traditionally on the last day of school, which was the first day of Christmas vacation, I would present the children with several new board games. We would play them all night while drinking hot cocoa and watching Christmas movies. We could no longer do this on the off year so we altered tradition. On the years when I do not have the children before Christmas we choose a day, usually the last day with me or the last weekend with me, and continue with tradition. It doesn’t matter when new board game night happens as long as it happens. Even my grown children look forward to this night and ask when it will take place so they can participate too.
We know when our weekends together will be so we pick the same weekend each year to bake our Christmas cookies and put our gingerbread house together. Problem solved.
The children get a gift or two early in the years I have them the week before Christmas. This alleviates the issue of quickly opening gifts on Christmas morning then having to leave a few hours after Santa comes, and then having to wait an entire week to play with all their new toys. I call these “mommy presents”. The children ask Santa for two gifts every year so giving a present or two early is not such a big deal on the off year. This gives them a new toy or two to enjoy throughout the week before Christmas and when they return home they have Santa toys to play with.
Start A New Tradition:
After our divorce, the children and I adopted Kindness Elves. Kindness elves appear a few times each week after advent begins. They bring little notes with them asking us to do good deeds of kindness during the Christmas season that carry throughout the year. If we miss worship services together on the off years we are still remembering what the season is really about, the gift of Jesus. Our elves ask us to be giving and kind to one another, to share joy and love, to make a meal for a family in need, to do a good deed for someone without them knowing, and to pray for others who may need some peace in their hearts.
If you’re lucky enough to have an amicable relationship with your ex you may be able to keep with tradition during the holidays for the sake of your children. If not, think outside the box in a positive way to help your children enjoy the holidays. Sometimes change can be a welcomed blessing and new traditions can be just as special as old ones. The holiday season is about enjoying one another and celebrating life. Open your mind to new possibilities. Use the suggestions above to make any holiday joyous.
Barbara Ann Bruno is a Motivational Speaker, Author, and Women’s Empowerment Coach. The holidays can be overwhelming, even if you’re not divorced. Barbara is here to support you.