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Celebrating Christmas Without Your Kids

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.

More on the Holidays and Family:

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
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Claire

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
Guest
Julie

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
Guest
Brooke Lynn

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
Guest
Brooke Lynn

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…

Caroline
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Caroline

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…

Grammy
Guest
Grammy

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… Read more »

T
Guest
T

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

Michele
Guest
Michele

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
Guest
Rose

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!

Brooke Lynn
Guest
Brooke Lynn

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… Read more »