In this first holiday season since being divorced, the emotional tugs from the divorce are in some ways renewed. The holidays capture tradition, focus on family and love, and press pause for parents to enjoy the magic of childhood. When divorcing, or even after having been divorced for some time, these highlights of the holidays can feel sad.
My office manager played a comic reel for me just today and the comedian stated very wisely “No good marriage ever ended in divorce.” While this is true, it does little during the holidays when you desire the traditions of years past and when you crave the coziness of your family together. For those with children, no one in the world delights in watching the magic of Christmas unfold in your children’s eyes as much as you ~ except for their other parent. When parenting time is shared, this inevitably means that each parent will miss different parts of the Christmas experience with their children.
The week before Christmas, our office is actually busier with last minute calls about parenting disputes. The most recent call I responded to was from a parent being threatened by the other to call the police if she left for western Nebraska to spend Christmas Eve with her family – notwithstanding that she would be arriving back for the court ordered time on Christmas Day. But the other parent was adamant in his resistance because he would miss his Friday at 5 p.m. through Saturday at 10 a.m. parenting time. Just one night and yet the emotions of the holidays lead to a reduced perspective: one that lead him to choose risking his children and their mother having cop involvement in the close days before Christmas and not allowing his children to see elderly grandparents.
As I support my clients with these holiday conflicts and even experience my own heartstrings being tugged at with a tinge of sadness, my Christmas wish for those of you struggling through the holidays is that you make peace with your circumstances – whatever they may be – such that you can truly enjoy the gift of the present moment. For separated parents, my wish is for you to find peace with each other – in whatever measure possible – such that the holidays can be celebrated anew and with a shift from feeling heartache to feeling the hopefulness of the season.