My daughter was 7 years old when she spent her first Christmas with my Ex after the divorce. Having spent the 3 prior Christmas’ with just the two of us, the thought of not having her with me filled me with mixed emotion. To add to this, I do not have any family that lives within 1000 miles of where I lived and faced the prospect of spending my Christmas alone.
Wanting to have a joyful post-divorce Christmas alone, I lived by the 4 following guidelines.
1. Not to Harbor Resentment Against my Ex. I knew in my head it was my Ex’s legal right to have his daughter for Christmas. I also knew that it was right for my daughter to spend Christmas with her father. Regardless, I still felt I was being cheated for Christmas and could feel a resentment growing against my Ex. I had to get to a place of acceptance that I would still spend Christmas with my daughter it just wouldn’t be on December 25th. I made the decision that year and every year since to have our Christmas when she returns from her visit. I have been very happy with this arrangement and have found that I enjoy having the wrapped gifts under a tree for a day or two more.
2. Don’t Play the Martyr. A friend had asked me that first year what my plans were for Christmas. I had no desire to hop on a plane and be so far away for Christmas from my daughter even though we wouldn’t be together. I told my friend I had no plans. She made the observation that it sounded like my plan was to sulk all day. She was right and is what I needed to snap myself out of being self-centered. I went on that year to volunteer my time locally to be of service to those less fortunate that I am. It was a special Christmas for me and a lesson in humility and gratitude.
3. Enjoy the Holidays. I needed to remind myself that Christmas Day alone does not make up The Season. I needed to make sure that my daughter and I still enjoyed the activities we’ve come to do each year. I knew I needed to be upbeat about her going to spend Christmas with her Father. She was excited and I didn’t want to send her out the door feeling guilty about Mom spending it alone. I talked with her about how much I was looking forward to my holiday and the holiday we would spend together when she came home.
4. A Tradition of Being of Service. I have had several Christmas’ by myself and each one I’ve done something a little different except for the common theme of being of service. One year when my Grandmother was 101, I traveled to spend Christmas with her in a nursing home when I learned she was going to be alone. That was a special year since it was her last Christmas and I was able to assist her in wishing every family member a Merry Christmas by phone.
This year, I will be spending Christmas without my daughter as well. This year will be a bit different. I’ve been dating a wonderful man for the past year who is a single father as well. We’ll be celebrating Christmas at my house with his extended family in the immediate area. I love to host dinner parties; so am looking forward to having everyone over.
Upon hearing about our Christmas dinner together; my Ex offered to bring my daughter home mid-afternoon on Christmas so she can enjoy the afternoon and evening with us. I truly am blessed and so grateful that I elected years ago to halt that resentment with her father that was building.
Her presence at the Christmas table is the best gift he can give me.