‘Tis the Season
I LOVE the holidays! Like take ridiculously out of the way detours to look at lights and sing Blue Christmas with my Elvis lip love
this time of year. I started LOTS of traditions before my kids were old enough to even remotely understand them (admittedly a little over the top) because I wanted to shape their view in the long term.
The first Christmas post divorce presented a challenge. Did I do everything exactly the same way which seemed to magnify the obvious missing part of all their previous Christmases, or start over with all new traditions which may or may not feel so Christmassy. I actually lost sleep over this. At the time I desperately wanted to protect my kids from the pain of one more blow reminding them that their family would forever be different. Now I think there are bigger issues in the universe, but I was a hot mess in a Santa hat at the time.
I landed on a combination of the two. We kept some things the same, and I invited their dad to be part of all of those things. Some he did, and some he didn’t. I also introduced some new traditions to reframe how we reflect during this season of joy and peace and giving. We all give up getting something we would like to have for Christmas by instead find someone else who needs it more. This has changed in execution over the years. One year we chose a person our same age and gender from the Angel tree. One year we had a contest at the grocery store to see who could buy the most with $20 to donate to the food pantry. The last two years, we have adopted a family and I will say that is now my favorite part of the whole season. Last year, we enlisted some help to provide basic necessities for a family whose mom had been diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. I explained to my kids that this was most likely this family’s last Christmas with all of them together. With a car full of wrapped gifts, we drove to where they lived and knocked on the door with arms full of gifts. When we were going back out the door, they said thank you. My son said, “Oh we are NOT done yet!” And these two little girls ran behind him to the car with the largest eyes I’d ever seen. I watched my then 11 year old son turn into a little Junior Saint Nick. He told these little girls that there were presents for them and some for them to give their mom. I cried all the way home–not the pretty crying but nose-running, hiccup-inducing sobbing. And my son patted me on the hand and said, “Mom, this was the best Christmas ever.”
Our Christmas card this year has a quote from the Charlie Brown Christmas movie: “It’s NOT what’s under the tree that matters but who’s around it.” If you’re facing a tough holiday season due to breakup or divorce, find a way to bring more peace and joy to the world. There’s no better cure for a broken heart than being part of making things lighter or sweeter or special for someone else. This year, we adopted three families (with the help of others). My sleepless nights writing my hands over whether to put out the Christmas village seem insignificant when I think about the positive impact we can make if we turn things around. The distraction of $20 of canned food turned into gifts, clothes, and groceries for three families this year. Every once in a while in the craziness that is single parenting, I think I get something right.
Happy Holidays & Merry Christmas!
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