Sunday, December 26, 2010

Holiday Traditions in a Divorced Family

I come from a traditional family. My parents have been married for 41 years, but for the first 18 years of my life we did the same holiday traditions every year. Christmas Eve was spent at my parents' best friend's house for an amazing dinner with a large group of friends. After dinner all of us daughters (for some reason all of my parents' friends had daughters) playing Santa passing out the gifts and we would open them by the fire, laughing, and eating dessert. The night would end at midnight mass with me always falling asleep on my dad's shoulder. The following morning at home we opened our gifts while family came over throughout the day.

As I got older my parents tried to keep these traditions intact, but with us girls getting married new traditions were formed. Christmas Eve was spent at my in laws because they always threw a big party. The next morning we opened gifts with my parents at my home followed by Christmas brunch back at my in laws.

But divorce changed everything and we have been struggling in trying to find new traditions. We tried splitting holidays. At first we thought we could swap Christmas Eve and Christmas Day every year. One year Princess D would be with her dad for his parents Christmas Eve party, but because he would be drinking I would have to come pick her up. Having her spend the night at where ever he was sleeping was not optimal because I purchased all of the gifts that would be from Santa. It was hard pulling Princess D away from her new toys so that she could have Christmas breakfast at her other grandparents house. My X and I were fighting over our time with her.

What it comes down to is our daughter's happiness. Creating traditions she can count on. So, this year we repeated last year's schedule and improved it a bit.

Princess D was with me on Christmas Eve. We made cookies for Santa, we tracked Santa, she opened up her one gift from me, we had a nice quiet dinner with my parents and she went to bed on time.


In the morning she opened up her gifts and got to play with them for a few hours. At noon I dropped her off at her other grandparents' house to spend time with her Dad and his family while I went out to dim sum with my parents. Then around 5pm Princess D would be brought home.

It worked for all of us! Princess D was content and didn't feel like she was being dragged all over the place. There was no fighting or uncomfortable feelings between her dad and I. I can't say that this is the PERFECT tradition or that it isn't going to change again in the future. But at least I know that this is a basic tradition we can count.