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There's No Place Like Far From Home For The Holidays

There’s No Place Like Far From Home For The Holidays

By Kristen Chase

Nothing about divorce is fun, but the holidays can be downright torturous.

I realize that’s torture is relative. And considering how many I survived with my ex-inlaws, you would think that having a holiday without them would be as relaxing as a Hawaii vacation.

But I’d spend every holiday with them if it meant I’d be with my children.

This year seems especially hard for me, even more than last year when I offered to switch with him because he had never been home for Christmas. I thought it would be a nice thing, you know, me taking the high road and all. Plus, I’d see them the day after, and we’d have our own celebration and maybe it would come to help me in the long run.

Little did I know how hard it would be to wake up on Christmas morning without them, missing them even more when I celebrated with my friends’ kids and her family.

So given that I wasn’t with them last year, I was all geared up to have them this year, but as it turns out, my ex did not consider my gesture to be an actual “switch,” but rather, a “forfeit,” so I’ve found myself without them again.

Worse, even they were bummed to be apart from me.

Look, I’d happily celebrate birthdays and holidays with my kids if it was something they really wanted, but we’re just not in a place where that’s possible. And quite frankly, I think my kids even know that because they never even brought that up as a possibility.

Of course, they’re with me up through Christmas Eve, and while I admittedly sulked a bit about it, not in front of them, of course, I’m planning our usual holiday traditions — the book advent countdown, the Christmas tree decorating, the awkward Santa visit — knowing that even though our Christmas Day will be celebrated on Christmas Eve Day, it will still be just as wonderful.

But my favorite part of Christmas is the early morning wake-up, with the kids clamoring to come down the stairs, then gawking at the lit tree with all the presents underneath, particularly my youngest for whom I will have now missed two Christmas mornings.

And I have to say that the holidays never meant so much to me until I had kids with which to spend them. Their excitement is magical, and for me, as someone who is not religious, it is the reason for the season. A time to cherish family, give thanks, and acknowledge all the special people in your life.

Many friends have kindly invited me to join them over the holidays, but I’ve decided it’ll be best for me to spend them alone. As much as I enjoy their company, it’s not the same for me without my kids, so the least I can do is take the rare 5 days-in-a-row alone and give myself the gift of respite, which is something I really need.

They’ll be back with me soon enough, to ring in the new year as we did the year before, all together. Just the 5 of us. As it should be. And in some ways, no matter what happens in my personal life, always will.

About the Author

Kristen Chase

Kristen Chase is a writer, author, and a single mom of four. It’s as exhausting as it sounds (at least the mom part). Also, awesome.

Kristen is also co-founder of

Kristen Chase is a writer, author, and a single mom of four. It’s as exhausting as it sounds (at least the mom part). Also, awesome.

Kristen is also co-founder of Cool Mom Picks and author of The Mominatrix’s Guide to Sex.


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  • Claire

    December 5, 2014 at 7:39 am

    You are taking that with a lot more grace than I would. I’d be angry and if the kids wanted to stay I’d be telling him where to stick his forfeit. But I’m not exactly known for my grace and dignity in these situations.

    I hope you find it to be a chance to recharge and relax.

  • Julie

    December 5, 2014 at 10:04 am

    I’m with you Claire.

    I guess this just shows his true character (or lack thereof) and he’s proven he’s going to be spiteful, even in the face of his children. This actually hurts him because now you are a lot less likely to be gracious … no more switching.

  • Brooke Lynn

    December 6, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    Divorce and custody situations are very hard on the children. Is he going against a custody order. I’ve had one put into place and it really sets things up nicely us we know what to expect for just things. And in laws are in laws. Just ficus on the positive. Why bash the past?

  • Brooke Lynn

    December 6, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    Divorce and custody situations are very hard on the children. Is he going against a custody order? I had a custody order put into place so there is no confusion or arguing. It sets things up nicely so we know what to expect for most things. And in-laws are in-laws. Why bash the past?
    Live in the present and focus on the positive. You’ll be much happier. There are 2 sides to every story…

    • Kristen Chase

      December 11, 2014 at 9:35 am

      No of course not, otherwise I’d fight it! I offered him Christmas last year while we were still working out the agreement (probably because I was hoping that might help in the long run + because I was being nice). We’re on an odd-even system so technically this is his year, which is why I’m not fighting it. 

  • Caroline

    December 7, 2014 at 10:38 am

    This is going to HURT him in the longer term. Even not being at all spiteful or petty, you would definitely NEVER make any kind of switch that did not suit you personally and certainly without an agreement in writing about what the precise terms of that switch are, dated and witnessed.

    Silly man. Silly, silly man. Oh well, you live and you learn I suppose…

    • Kristen Chase

      December 11, 2014 at 9:36 am

      Lesson learned, Caroline. Everything’s a lesson with this, isn’t it! Thanks for commenting. 

  • Grammy

    December 7, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    More than forty years ago I went through not having my son with me on holidays. Since I was the one who left the marriage, and I moved far enough away that I didn’t have to deal with the ex on a daily basis, I generously offered to allow the kid to spend every Thanksgiving, Christmas vacation, Easter vacation, and more than two months in summer with his dad.

    I did it for my son, not for either of the adults in the equation. His dad’s family had always been the go-to celebration for most holidays, with Grandma and all the cousins and aunts and uncles, and if he stayed with me it would have been just the two of us.

    The first Thanksgiving I spent alone I was almost physically sick from loneliness and missing my boy, even though friends had invited me to join their family meal. After that terrible four-day weekend I decided I needed to figure out how to get through the rest of our life not being together at holiday time. I decided we’d just have the whole Christmas I wanted to have with him a week after December 25.

    It’s the best thing I ever did. It became our tradition, and when he was older my son told his friends it never bothered him that his parents were divorced at holiday time because he just had TWO Christmases, and, best of all, nobody ever made him feel guilty about being one place or the other. Over the years it became easy to look forward to “Jeff’s second Christmas” and I didn’t sulk and feel sad and lonely that we didn’t get to do it on the specific date everyone else did.

    Later, when I remarried, it continued because my husband’s ex was a horror show and we decided it was best to just tell her she could have our daughter every Christmas Day (she wanted to make it a fight and we didn’t). I don’t think she ever knew that it worked out perfectly because our family just had Christmas a week late.

    All this is to say that, while it’s crushing to deal with this when you’re recently divorced, and moreso when the other parent is selfish and wouldn’t mind hurting the kids just to make you suffer, you can keep it from being a negative thing. Set your own agenda and your own timeclock and have the holiday you want with your children on a different day. Present it to the kids as an opportunity to have double the fun, and don’t allow your own heartbreak make them feel bad about enjoying time with their father. He may be an ass, but you don’t want their holiday ruined with having to deal with any of it.

    In the long run, you’ll be glad you allowed your kids to have a good time with a family that is theirs, even if you don’t like that family. And don’t be surprised if, as adults, your kids look back on having two Christmases as a good thing and are grateful that you managed to keep things merry and bright for them.

    Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    • T

      December 8, 2014 at 9:05 am

      What a beautiful response, and a wonderful idea! I hope you have a very merry Christmas!

    • Kristen Chase

      December 11, 2014 at 9:37 am

      I echo what T said. This is awesome. I always say you make your own Christmas! 

  • Michele

    December 8, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    I fully understand what you are going through. I also have to deal with a painful ex.

    We have been divorced for a decade, and the kids are now in their late teens. I took the high road, as you do, and often that meant that their dad got what he wanted. However, the kids understand exactly what they’re dealing with. They love their dad but also see that he isn’t respectful of me, yet I am of him. And they know that I do it because of them. No need to play games.

  • Rose

    December 8, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Ugh, sorry but your ex sounds like a d*ck. So unfair. Maybe I don’t understand the situation fully, but aren’t you the primary carer? So he does far less of the actual work and then gets to have the kids for holidays/fun times? Boooooo!

    • Kristen Chase

      December 11, 2014 at 9:39 am

      I am the primary carer and we’re on an even/odd alternating system. He’s just decided to stick to the rules this year (and really, we didn’t have the agreement set last year so it was kind of a free for all). If I was a super stickler, I’d point out all the other parts of the agreement he has NOT stuck to, but I really don’t like the fighting. We’re going to have a marvelous Christmas the day before. 

      Now I know. Definitely a bummer but a lesson learned. 

  • Brooke Lynn

    December 11, 2014 at 3:03 pm

    I’ve learned through my grown daughter that she sometimes felt like she was always in the middle of choosing between her mom and her dad. I was the primary care giver as well. But holidays through the court systems are always shared. I also come from divorced parents and my mom was primary and we always shared 50/50 holidays with my father which I enjoyed very much. Holidays are special times.

    We are obviously all divorced for a reason, we no longer like or agree with our exes, but we chose to have children with them and we have to learn that the children suffer through things like this. Since there is a custody order in place they’re really shouldn’t have to be much switching, communication or arguing. I learned through a psychologist once that bashing the other parent only makes the child feel bad about themselves because they are a part of the parent. And this includes bashing the x in -laws, extended family too.
    When you speak poorly about the other parent you’re actually hurting the child’s self esteem. Your also hurting yourself. It’s usually best to just stick to the court schedule that way you don’t have to stress yourself out or get the children upset. Switching and doing “favors” just makes everything stressful so try your best to stick to the schedule. What would being nice help in the long run for if there is a legal agreement?

    We all think we do a good job hiding our hatred towards our exes but children hear, see and feel everything. You can’t really do any favors for somebody that has legal rights to certain times. So enjoy the time you do have and try your best to let your children enjoy their time with their father because it’s the father you chose for them to have. Unless you he’s some kind of criminal, in the end they’re really not that bad of people. We just have to put aside our personal feelings and let the children have the relationship they deserve.
    When your kids are 20 like my daughter is now, you’ll see how important this is and how much none of the nonsense really matters.
    Best of luck to all the single moms and dads out there! We did this to our kids, remember that!!