Looking forward to the Holidays?

I have been quiet recently. Today, however, it’s 3 posts in one day…

For non-U.S. readers: Americans refer to Thanksgiving and Christmas (Xmas) as “holidays” because they are distinct from “vacation” (this earned break from work is known as “holidays” in some other countries — I hope you’re all keeping up?). I don’t know when it started, but the Christmas season is now referred to as the “holiday” season (as in “Happy Holidays”) because of a desire to avoid offending the many people who don’t follow Christian religions.

For U.S. readers: It would be unwise to ask if/when Thanksgiving is celebrated in other countries. Trust me on this one.

This has been an awful year for so many reasons and it’s only early August. There are plenty of exciting opportunities for things to go wrong before the year is over — yay! OK, I’m not really a pessimist so this doesn’t mean I’m going to create a self-fulfilling prophecy and generate problems where none need exist.

But it hasn’t escaped my notice that it won’t be that long before I need to think about Thanksgiving and Xmas and how my runaway wife and I share time with the 3 girls. I’ve never really paid any attention to how other couples do this; it never seemed to be any of my business.

  • Perhaps it makes the most sense for my runaway wife to have the kids for a few days for one holiday, and for me to have them for another
  • Perhaps it is better if they see both of us on each big holiday (good luck eating two big dinners girls!)
  • Perhaps, and this is probably the least desirable option for the girls, my presumed sole custody means they won’t see my runaway wife on either holiday
  • Perhaps, and this would be a crazy an odd request given the year’s progression, my runaway wife may assume we’ll be sharing some time together

If we split the time so we each get the girls for one of the two big seasonal holidays, it may not make a big difference which one the girls are with me. There are pros and cons to each. I know for sure that the ‘other one’ is going to be very empty without them around. And this has got me thinking…

First: What do most separated/divorced couples do in this situation?

Second: What should I do with myself if I don’t have the girls at all for one of the big holidays?

For both queries, I’m very interested in public or private suggestions based on the experiences of others.

If I’m alone for one of the holidays, one option would be to travel somewhere to visit a friend or go on some adventure. Travel requires advance planning because the holiday season is busy on the roads and in the air. If I do make travel plans, they would be hard to change without messing up some friend’s plans, so I need to get the plans right first time if I can.

If I’m alone for one of the holidays and have nothing to do, I could even do something quite different, like volunteer to help out somewhere in this region (Fire station? Hospital? Food shelter?). Perhaps this could give someone else time to spend with their family if I’m only going to be alone anyway.

As I said at the start, I’m not being pessimistic about this, just realistic. This could be the first time in my entire life that I have not had Xmas with other family members. It’s too far and too short a break to get to Australia, where my closest family lives.

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About Single Dad

I married young. Now, after more than 20 years of marriage, 3 wonderful daughters, and many ups and downs, my wife has decided the marriage is over. The "About Me" and "My Background" pages on my blog have more details.
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10 Responses to Looking forward to the Holidays?

  1. Surrey gal says:

    I think these are the most difficult times for broken families – holidays… You will see how it works for your family. Speak to your runaway wife and both of you should try to come with some solution.
    I like your idea of helping somewhere so that somebody else can spend time with their family. It is a very nice thing worth spreading..

  2. everevie says:

    I am not divorced, nor do I have children. I was a child of divorce but my families were separated by many states…BUT…if I’d had the choice and the chance…I’d want to spend each holiday with both parents at different times during the day. Like…lunch w/mom…dinner w/dad type of thing.

    Have you thought of asking your girls what they would like?

    • Asking my girls what they want? *gasp* What kind of über-liberal molly-coddling thinking is this?! 🙂

      OK, so that’s a pretty good idea. When I asked them this a while ago (yes, I did think of it, I’m not a tyrant…even though it would eliminate a lot of discussions and save me time), they said they didn’t know. Hrrmph…a lot of help they are sometimes. My guess is that they will have a better idea what they want after they’ve done this for the first year, but first time around, no-one’s sure what to do.

      But seriously, your ideas are both very useful. Thanks!

  3. Just after my divorce my kids lived with their father since I had moved to ON. He never was into holidays so they were always spent with my husband & I after that. He has started drinking during visits again, which was the reason he lost physical custody a few years ago. That violates our court order so in response to his last request for a visit I told him no and explained why. Haven’t heard from him since.

    Anyhow, my kids were much younger than yours when this first started. I agree with the previous response: talk with the girls and see what they might like to do.

    • Hi QoZ,

      It sounds like your situation was both simpler (he didn’t want them for the holidays) and much more complicated (drinking and court orders and a disappearance). Are you saying that your kids have no contact at all with their biological father? I guess they’re happy enough with you (and your beau), maybe they don’t think about him much.

      • Definitely a crazy situation! He never admitted that he has a drinking problem; he also never apologized to them for how they were treated. They have a lot of resentment and really have no desire to see him. Sad but he brought the situation upon himself.

  4. I also think the girls are old enough to decide for themselves what they want. It’s just important that you tell them this together and that you make sure that they know there are no hard feelings what so ever if they choose one over the other any or all holidays.

    But you should only say yes to celebrating the holidays all together if you’re really ok with it. I think if you’ve once decided to do it that way, then it’s very hard to change if you or your wife should later find yourselves in new relationships.

    • I think you’re right that I should tell them there will be no hard feelings, whatever they choose. And I will mean it. I don’t know how to do this yet, so I have no expectation that there is a ‘right’ approach.

      Right now, I feel *very* uncomfortable with the prospect of spending time together for a holiday as the 5 of us. I don’t mind going out to a meal occasionally, or all being in the same place for an event for one of the girls, or meeting incidentally around the area. But the holidays are ‘family time’ and we don’t have that family anymore…

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