Christmas without the kids

One of the toughest parts of being a single parent is holidays. There’s no way around it, you’re going to end up celebrating some of your holidays sans children, unless you’re one of the fraction of divorced couples who have a sufficiently convivial relationship that you can all be in the same room at the same time. I’ve heard of it, but it’s certainly not my experience, and quite frankly other than for the kids sake, I don’t really have any desire to spend Thanksgiving or Christmas morning with my ex anyway.
Our approach is one that is probably pretty common: we alternate holidays, year by year. So last year the kids were with their Mom for Thanksgiving and this year they were with me. Some holidays are relatively easy because they stretch across multiple days (Christmas eve + Christmas day, for example) but others are a one-shot deal: New Years Eve doesn’t really work on Jan 2 or Dec 30.
For us, Christmas is usually an easy one: they celebrate Hanukah with me, and Christmas with Mom. In contemporary US culture, however, Christmas is a much bigger deal and is also the holiday that happens during their break from school. So it’s a bit trickier and certainly wouldn’t be fair for their Mom to have the kids with her every Christmas break…


Generally they’ll be with me for Christmas Eve day, for example, then at Mom’s house for that evening and the following day, which works out well. In fact, school breaks that don’t involve travel tend to be very straightforward and we do our best to stay on schedule.
But when there’s travel involved, then everything’s thrown out the window, and this year she’s taken everyone to visit family friends in Europe, for the entire two weeks of Christmas break. Which means that I’ll be celebrating Christmas with my friends – which is good, in as much as I celebrate Christmas at all – but without my children.
Which sucks.
I am fortunate that I do have lots of good friends and invitations to join their families for the holidays, but between Christmas Eve, Christmas, Boxing Day and New Years, it’s going to be a distressingly long holiday period where I’ll be flying solo.
Which begets a question: for those of you that are single parents, how do you work out the holiday mayhem with your ex so that the kids get to enjoy time with each of you and you don’t end up completely kid-free for weeks on end?

4 comments on “Christmas without the kids

  1. Hi Dave,
    Much like your situation, my ex is also Jewish.
    But…. my oldest was my step son and would fly to New Jersey to spend time with his biological dad and paternal grandparents from the time he was 5 (when we moved to FL) until 18.
    So we never saw him during Christmas.
    My daughter and ex-son-in-law share time on holidays with my granddaughter. Her birthday was yesterday…. we picked her up at 2 PM. They alternate each year. Last year we had a birthday breakfast.
    It can be done.

  2. It’s never easy being away from your kids at any time, especially an important holiday like Christmas. I have the opposite problem as my boy’s mom deserted them and hasn’t been in their lives for years so they feel a different loss at holiday time.

  3. For Thanksgiving, we alternate. One of us gets the kids the entire holiday, although my daughter goes back the following Saturday IF it isn’t the Thanksgiving parent’s turn. Whoever has her for Thanksgiving does NOT have her for Christmas. Each of us gets her for one week of her two week break, alternating the week of Christmas. It does suck, but we always make sure we have OUR Christmas and Thanksgiving, even if it isn’t on the actual holiday. My youngest daughter will benefit greatly from me having joint custody of her brother and sister…she’ll get two Thanksgivings one year and two Christmases the next! Just found your blog, love it!

  4. I don’t want to spend Christmas without my baby. I’ve been so used to have her always, since I am a single parent. But I know someday, somehow, I’ll get to spend it, without her by my side, because circumstances will not allow us to, nobody knows if ever I get to work away from my place, it’s really hard, just even thinking about it. I don’t know if I can make it.

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