A Multitude of Christmases

Even though the holiday season is a fun time of year—spending time with family, eating lots of food, giving and receiving gifts—it can also be a stressful time of year. Trying to cram different celebrations with different family members—or different parts of one family—into a few days can be difficult.

And a divorce can compound that difficulty.

I have three wonderful daughters, whom I love with all my heart, but their mother and I divorced about seven years ago. Our divorce agreement states that they’re with me every Thanksgiving, and they’re with their mom every Christmas Day. Sure, it kinda stinks not seeing my children on Christmas, but I’ve come to look for silver linings. I’m a teacher, but their mother isn’t, so they’ll spend most of the school vacation with me.

I think back to the first year after my divorce. About a month or two before Christmas, my girls asked me if Santa also left presents at Daddy’s house. I didn’t have the answer to that—after all, it was that first year—so I consulted with their mother. She said of course Santa would come to Daddy’s house, but the girls wouldn’t be able to open those presents until a few days after Christmas when their time with me began.

I know the Christmas Day itinerary for my children. They open gifts at mom’s house and then they spend the afternoon with their mom’s extended family. Two destinations in one day, not that far from each other, so it’s not that stressful.

Wanting to celebrate with my family as well, the girls and I usually do that the weekend before Christmas. We stay at my sister’s house, and my parents are there, and my girls get gifts from their grandparents and aunt. It’s a wonderful day, and it’s only that one destination.

Here’s my kids’ Christmas celebration summary: Daddy’s family before Christmas, Mommy’s house Christmas morning, Mommy’s family Christmas afternoon, and Daddy’s house a few days later. Maybe it’s not so stressful. In terms of number of gifts, no one celebration has too many gifts. Usually around three to four per kid at my house, and I’m so proud of my children for how grateful they are when receiving gifts, no matter what the gifts are.

I mentioned in my previous post (http://petetarsi.com/ive-got-a-secret/) that they’d be receiving a special gift from me this year. The secret is out. I chose to give them their copies of Flipping the Scales at my sister’s house in front of my family instead of at my house alone with them. The books were saved for the final gifts. As the girls opened them, the looks on their faces went from curious to amazement to pride. When I told them it had been available for over a month, they wanted to know why I didn’t give it to them when it first came out! They’ve forgiven me for keeping it a secret, and they’ve already shown it to friends and teachers, so I’m guessing they enjoyed the first of their Christmases this year.

No matter how crazy or convoluted celebrating the holidays can be, remember that it’s all about spending time with loved ones. So however and whatever you’re celebrating this time of year, I hope you have a happy holiday season.

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