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.
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?