They Won’t Be Home For Christmas


They Won’t Be Home For Christmas

Dear Ask Micah,

Tell me what I am supposed to do with my anger and bitterness this Christmas? I’m divorced
with two children and this is the year he gets to have them on Christmas morning. I have cried every
day over it. I have begged him to let them wake up at my house, I have done everything humanly
possible to keep this from happening but it’s going to. He’s even getting them New Year’s Eve too. This
whole holiday season is ruined for my kids and I. Now I have family dinners and gatherings and an office
party to go to where everyone will be happy and excited while I am miserable. I could stay home, but
that’d do me no good later. So tell me what to focus on and be happy about this year since I can’t have
my kids on Christmas?

Leila

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Dear Leila,

Your kids are alive this Christmas. You will be seeing them– it just might be December 24th or
December 26th. They will also ring in a New Year whether you are present or not. They’ll come home on
January 1st and hug you and wish you well in the coming year. There are some parents out there who
aren’t going to get that this year. So you do have some things to be grateful for and happy about.

With that said, I don’t blame you one second for being bitter over the holidays this year. It sounds like they
are just sort of sideswiping you, and you’ll be left watching the best parts roll by without you after having
knocked you down.

Divorce is always a lingering little pest that pops up to hurt you again and again at
some unknown, unseen point down the road. I don’t know about your specific divorce situation, but I
have friends that are divorced and I see how complicated the sharing of kids can be. It can especially be
difficult for the party who didn’t fail the marriage. By that I mean the person (if any) who really didn’t
do anything to contribute to the end of the marriage. Say a wife was living her life as a wife and mother,
and then the husband decided he wanted to be with someone else and divorced her. It’s hard enough
to heal your heart after the commitment you believed in and worked to preserve just disintegrates
before your eyes and leaves you alone, but to then begin to lose time and memories with your children
through a thing called “shared custody” or “visitation” only adds insult to injury.

I have a friend who had an unfaithful spouse. They divorced and he got visitation every other weekend, and he gets a Christmas here and there (I don’t know the exact specifics of the holiday arrangements). Every time that his
Christmas with the kids rolls around it practically kills her. Not only did her life implode, and she lost her
home, some friends, her husband, her dreams, the future she’d always planned—now she also has to
experience holidays without her children, when children are what make the majority of the holidays the
most fun. She never planned on missing any Christmases with her kids when she and her husband
decided to have children. She didn’t think that every other Saturday for the next 15 years was also
going to be robbed of her too. She walked into the commitment thinking it was forever and that she
would get to raise any children they had together daily. Then through no real fault of her own, he decided he wanted something different, and now she’s forced to give up some of the days of her life with her kids—even some holidays.

That isn’t quite fair when you think about it. She didn’t even do anything to cause any of it. So Leila, I totally understand your frustration and sadness. I don’t know how much or how little you helped contribute to the decline of your marriage, but I’m pretty sure that when you married your ex-husband you hadn’t expected that one day it’d end and you’d be spending a Christmas alone.

However, you are going to and there isn’t anything that you can do about that. So the thing you have to do is to try and not bring everyone else’s Christmas down along with yours. If you cannot go to a family gathering and be pleasant and light hearted and happy for the gifts that you have in your life, then stay home. Your relatives didn’t do anything wrong either and they deserve to be able to enjoy their families and their time with relatives without Debbie Downer groaning about her ex-husband the whole time.

The same goes for the office party. These people have worked really hard and want to kick up their heels a little. The last thing they want is to have you make them feel sorry for you and ruin their festive night. So keep it all inside. Look ahead to next year when you’ll have them again, and focus on making the time with them, before or after the holidays,as much fun as possible. This is just a sad Christmas, but it’s not a tragic one. We all have had sad Christmases for many reasons, but even a sad Christmas is still a Christmas. And it’s a time of year when you remember who loves you most and you cling to them.

If you can’t feel the love of your kids this year on Christmas Day, then share your love with others in a meaningful way that helps you to pass the time but that also helps you salvage some of that warmth and Christmas feeling. Maybe donate your time at a shelter. Maybe spend Christmas with some single friends who are just as lonely and make a big sleepover party—complete with “Santa” and presents in the morning. Maybe have Christmas with a sibling or parent. Just don’t sit home being depressed. Go enjoy the day as best as you can if only for the day’s sake.

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