Do you ever wonder what single parents do on holidays? I know my experience is not typical. I spent the first ten to twelve years my ex and I were separated having him to dinner and my house Christmas morning. We waited, all but stockings, for him to come over so he was with the six kids for the big part of Christmas as far as kids are concerned. He would also, on occasion, come to Mass with us on Christmas Eve. Usually, this was because one or more of the kids would be singing, doing liturgical dance or serving on the altar. He would not come if this was at midnight but one of the earlier masses.
The past three years the kids – the youngest is now 17 – have gone to his, or his girlfriend’s, home on the evening of Christmas. This is a bit more difficult as we always have a large dinner at some point in the afternoon. Now, to accommodate the kids going to their dad’s, I try to arrange for dinner to begin before 2 pm. I have succeeded for three years.
The first year, the kids left and I did also. I went to the movies. My younger sister frequently goes to the movies on Christmas Day so I figured this was a good move. Well, may have been a good move but was not a good movie. I look for escapism in a movie. I do not want a movie that might well be too closely patterned after actual life. I did not get what I was looking for in the movie.
The second year, the kids left and took me to a friend’s home. Joan and Brian tend to have a lot of extended family over after dinner on Christmas evening. They do a Yankee swap and I had been invited to bring some cookies or other dessert item and come along. I had a great time but it was a logistical nightmare as the kids had to drop me off and then come get me after they were done at their dad’s. We did not have enough cars to go around that year and I, while having a good time, felt compelled to leave when my children arrived.
This year I did what I love to do when I have the house to myself. I turned the television off. I turned the Christmas tree and some Christmas music on and picked up a good book. I could very well have gone to the friend’s home again. I had some vague plans of doing so but decided I needed some quiet time to myself. I enjoyed reading. Kids were here and there after being at their father’s. One came home and left again. Others came home and played video games. One stayed at her dad’s. One was dog sitting. It was a great evening all around.
Single parents – whether moms or dads – have to learn to put any petty jealousies of the other parent aside for the sake of the children. Either pretend to be friends for one day or find a group you can hang with while the kids are with their other parent.