My Christmas tree died a week before Christmas. The branches were weighed down to the floor in a giant 8-foot droop. The star on top tilted to the left along with the sagging sapless branches. I should have known it was a sign. I should have known it would contribute to the sadness that would settle down over my usually happy holiday home.
My daughters left my home the morning of December 19th and didn’t return until the late evening of December 26th. It was my first attempt in 14 years at not being with my children on either December 24th or December 25th.
This was my 8th Christmas as divorced mom. Surely I was a pro by now at readjusting holiday expectations and schedules to accommodate a divided family. I had several times already experienced the truth that holidays and birthdays can be celebrated with just as much joy on any day you decide. I am not sure why this time was so different.
I tried my normal tricks. First, I planned our traditional Christmas Eve for December 26th and told my teenage daughters that Santa was trapped in a snowstorm and he wouldn’t be able to get to our house until the morning of December 27th. Next, I made sure I had a project slotted into the time I would be spending alone on Christmas to keep me busy and distracted. Lastly, I was keeping a daily gratitude log to remind myself of what I love about the holidays to keep my focus positive.
Christmas Eve day (normally my favorite day of the year) I woke up with a dark cloud above my head that refused to retreat. By 10 a.m. I had two good cries under my belt. I couldn’t snap out of it and that just made me feel worse. I felt like a failure.
Then a thought crept in. What if this was okay? What if I gave myself permission to be sad? What if I was gentle with myself and permitted my heartache to take over on a Christmas without my girls? What if I wasn’t Super Divorce Mom today and it was just going to be hard and sad? What if fudge was going to be my breakfast and pajamas were going to be my outfit for the day?
This reminder to myself that I was human was a relief. I felt my energy stir. I shed a few more tears before smiling at myself. This did suck and it was okay. I called my mom (my go-to) and we readily made plans to go to a movie to get me out of the house.
I made it. The twenty-four hours came and went. Followed thereafter by the heart-bursting, joy-filled reunion with my daughters forty-eight hours later. As hard as the non-holiday was, I needed the reminder that I am human and that my divorce experience will continue to have highs and lows. In digging into the low, I found it made the high all the more wonderful.