This year, I get Thanksgiving with my daughter. That means I won’t get Christmas. I remember the first year I didn’t get Christmas with her.
I was as prepared as you can be when you are faced with spending the holiday kid-free, but what I wasn’t ready for was all the questions from family about where my kid was, why she wasn’t with me, etc.
The next time, I did Christmas without her, I was in a relationship, and his family convinced me to come spend Christmas with them.
I thought I could avoid the questions by going there, but nope, they asked all the same things.
Both of these Christmases had more tears from me than I care to admit. This year, I am hoping I make it through tear free. But either way, I now know that I will make it through.
Here’s what I know to be true about divorce during the holidays.
Yes. It IS easier on everyone if you can work things out with your ex so that you both get to see your kid even if for just a little bit on the actual day. But sometimes there’s travel, sometimes there’s time constraints, and sometimes you and your ex just aren’t in that place where it’s a good idea for you to be hanging out with each other all Christmas Day.
(And, I’ll be honest, sometimes my ex and I are in the right place for things like that, but sometimes we aren’t. No judgment from me on that one.) So, even though we do try to arrange it, we don’t always make this happen.
But if we can’t, then there’s always FaceTime.
This year, my Christmas will probably have a little of my ex in it. I’ll get to see my daughter quite a bit, so will he, and it’ll be Christmas.
It might not be as picturesque as we had wanted, but it’ll be okay. But I’m still not sure if I am doing any family this year. Why?
Because of the questions. I can do time without my kid on Christmas, but I can’t do the questions
And so, I need you to do me a little favor this year. If there’s someone sitting at your Christmas table that doesn’t have their kid with them because of a split family, don’t ask questions.
Let them know that you can’t wait to see their kiddo again and to tell them you say hi. Then pass the damn mashed potatoes. That’s it.
We know you’re missing our kid at the table. Trust me. Nobody is missing our kid more right now than we are. Don’t tell us to be strong. Don’t bring up how your best friend’s neighbor family handles their divorced Christmas by going on joint vacation to Turks and Caicos with both families and they all stay in the same Bungalow and eat roast pig together and how we should try that next year.
Don’t force us to explain custody agreements and divorce decrees to you over apple pie. Don’t corner us and make us explain our custody schedule while everyone else is in the other room watching a football game.
I know it’s fascinating how we can work out all these details and our calendar must be crazy, and it all seems like a dance, and you’re super intrigued, but it’s our life you’re peering into here all fishbowl style and we’d rather not be examined too closely on a day like Christmas when we are barely holding it all together as-is.
Yes, my kid would have loved to have been here to do presents with everyone. But as it turns out, the entire extended family doesn’t revolve around my custody schedule, and when I so lovingly suggested that we just have Christmas a day early, I got shot down.
So I’m very sorry that you are disappointed you don’t get to see the look on their face when they open it, but I promise I will make a video.
Yes, I know it’s not the same thing as seeing them in person. I just stepped into a bathroom and FaceTimed my kid with a floral shower curtain and a toilet in the shot so she could show me the gifts her grandparents got her.
You’re right. Video definitely wasn’t the same as being there.
And no, I won’t put my phone down and just enjoy the family. My kid’s been texting me for updates all day, so she can feel like she’s in both places at once, because if you think this is hard on me, I’m a grown woman, can you imagine what it’s like for her?
And for the love of all that is eggnog, don’t ask me how my ex is doing.
Don’t tell me how much you miss him. You had nothing but bad things to say about him while we were married. Why are you suddenly pining away for him now?
And if you did actually happen to get along with him, his phone number hasn’t changed. I’m sure he’d be happy to hear from you and you guys can maybe go have a beer sometime, but no— I absolutely won’t ask him for you next time I see him.
Oh, and don’t make fun of him either. It doesn’t do anybody any good to make fun of my kid’s dad. In fact, don’t bring him up at all. I’d prefer we just pretend he doesn’t exist for the entire duration of this meal.
Please don’t shame me for getting a divorce today.
I know you don’t believe in divorce Aunt Karen. You’ve made that really clear.
I get that you and your husband worked through your differences and now your marriage is stronger for it, and you will never respect me because I took the coward’s way out, but I can’t really make it through your favorite discussion today.
I know we’ve been through this before, but your life and my life are two different stories. I’m really glad your marriage worked out. Mine didn’t. I don’t have a time machine, so can we please stop having this discussion?
Don’t tell me I look tired. In fact, don’t comment on my appearance in a negative way in any shape or form. Chances are, my makeup got smeared before I walked in here because I had to wipe a tear or two off my face. I’m not tired, I’m missing my kid.
I will take a hug though. And thank you for being glad to see me. But please don’t tell me I’m strong or brave. I’m neither of those things. I’m just a person who showed up on Christmas because that’s what you do.
Honestly, it was hard for me to even do today, but I wanted to see you guys, and it means a lot that you saved all those pictures of your dog on your phone to show me. I’m more than willing to look through those.
And yes, you can talk to my kiddo next time she calls to check in. That would be lovely.