There are many ways in which you and your former spouse can split the holidays. Regardless of which option was best for your family, the first Christmas under the new schedule may be challenging.
Though you may have memories of previous years and traditions you are no longer carrying out, don’t fall into the trap of believing that different means worse. Without assigning blame or anger, there must have been a reason why you got divorced. Something—or more likely, many things—was not working for one or both of you.
In my blended family, we celebrated “Christmas” on whatever day suited us. This allowed for the tradition to be special, and the “day” to be flexible. Our kids were excited to wake up to presents regardless of the actual date. We even left out cookies and milk because there was “no way santa could get to each and every house in 24 hours, so we opted for a different night for present drop off.” There are ways you can be flexible and creative to make your time special, and also allow the time with the other parent to be special too.
We’ve had some client’s that choose to do Christmas together and set aside their feelings for that special morning. This may not be possible for everyone, and that does not make you a bad parent/co-parent if this is not possible for your family. As you discuss your schedule, be sure to think about what is best for the children instead of what is best for you.
Some Things Are The Same
People get so centered on the things that are different that they forget that some things never change. For example, you still love your children. If you have shared custody, you may even appreciate the valuable time you have with them more. The hustle and bustle is easier to shake when you know the time you have is precious and limited.
Another thing that hasn’t changed is that one of the most important aspects of the holidays is that your children get to spend time with people who love them. In other words, maybe it wasn’t the traditions themselves that made the past holidays special but rather that it was a shared moment with your kids.
Begin to develop new traditions with your children. Even if the holiday lands on a year when you may not see them on the exact day of the holiday, perhaps there is a local Christmas tree lighting ceremony or a time when they get to sit down with you and create a decorative and elaborate Christmas list. You can essentially insert any idea you wish. The essential element is that you are spending time with your children.
Avoid Common Mistakes
Don’t try to win your child’s affection through gifts. Not only is this short-sighted, but it creates the impression that you are in a competition with your former spouse. If anything, you and your spouse can discuss Christmas gift ideas together. Split up some of the things that your child wants the most. That way, you and your spouse can both be heroes. Work together rather than against one another.
And lastly, it is ok to feel sad if you don’t have your children for Christmas. Take advantage of the time you do have with them. Plan your own tradition for where you go or what you do in the off years. Different doesn’t equate to worse unless you convince yourself that it is.
At Easterling Law, we have seen first-hand how difficult divorce can be on families—and we work tirelessly to mitigate its impact. We think about our clients and their lives beyond the divorce process. When we represent you, our actions must benefit you for the short and long term. Let’s connect today.