Help for the Holiday Shuffle: Dreading the Holidays?

Submitted by: Big Little Wolf

What divorced parent doesn’t dread the holidays – just a little bit?

We’re headed into times for family gatherings. For many of us, our Thanksgiving and Christmas preparations are tinged with melancholy. We know that tables will be set for a smaller number than they used to be. We may recall other times, and sense our children feeling pulled in conflicting directions.

When our children are shuttled between two homes, and some – seen off at airports – holiday time can be more about logistics than celebration.

So how do we manage with our heads held high? How do we make it easier for our kids? Emotionally, and otherwise?

I’ve had my share of heartache over this one. Years of it. When my boys were with their dad and not with me, the loneliness was palpable. I was used to making a big, messy, fabulous fuss – especially over Christmas.

Then there were the times that one son wanted to leave town to see his dad, and the other wanted to stay and hang at home. Of course, they both had to go – and I was stuck listening to complaints, while fighting my own wish to have them both with me.

So you position things as positively as you can, and remind yourself that ideally, children will build memories with both their parents.

But I didn’t kid myself. I knew they remembered the way things were “before” – and that nothing I could do would replace that. The holiday shuffle was an unpleasant dance. It still is.

Which brings me to time.

I won’t say it heals all wounds, but it eases them.

  • With time, you make new traditions.
  • With time, your children grow accustomed to sharing special days.
  • With time, you grow used to hauling to and from the airport.
  • With time, you learn to treat yourself to a break.

Might you consider making plans with friends? Taking a few days of quiet with books and a soaking tub? A little vacation if you can manage it?

And then there’s compromise.

For some of us, compromise is difficult under any circumstances. Compromise is especially challenging if we envision the holidays in a certain way, and reality doesn’t seem to measure up. But compromise is a life skill we can pass along by example – if two parents can remember they will always be connected through their children. And it’s the children’s best interests we should be thinking of, when it comes to the holidays.

© D A Wolf / Big Little Wolf

These days, Big Little Wolf (”Ms. Big”) reflects on life and her Daily Plate of Crazy, where she writes essays on everything – sometimes serious, sometimes fun – whatever strikes her on a given day as interesting, unusual, entertaining, or of concern.

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