New family, new traditions


We set up our Christmas tree tonight and true to family tradition, it is topped not with an angel or star but a sea creature. One year it was a Purple Squid. The next, a Great White Shark named Pizza. This year, a Manta Ray tops our tree. Our Christmas tree is as untraditional as our family and I love every rogue light, quirky ornament and twisted branch. It’s Martha UnStewart, Get Bent GOOP, Anti-Pinterest.

Since my divorce, I have worked hard to establish new family traditions and routines with my boys. Christmas is one of the most significant; my ex is Jewish and never really understood my family’s love for gaudy trees, overstuffed stockings and dozens of presents. We celebrated “Chrismukkah” for many years, playing dreidel next to the Christmas tree as the boys basked in their dual heritage.

Tonight after dropping off the boys, my ex asked to have a quick look at our holiday schedule. Hanukkah is late this year and he asked to spend as many of the 8 Crazy Nights with the boys as possible. In previous years, we would celebrate the holiday together at Family Dinner. I would roast a chicken per his mother’s recipe, spend the day squeezing water out of potatoes for latkes and desperately search Vancouver’s North Shore for blue and white candles for the menorah. This year, he asked to have the boys for dinner on the first night. Even though it wasn’t his usual night, he promised to have them home for bedtime. It took a moment to register but I realized that I was no longer a necessary part of this holiday. After several years of transition, he is now ready to take on this tradition on his own.

It reminded me of a conversation I had with my youngest one lazy Saturday morning a few weeks back. Lounging in our pjs, I asked him what he would like for breakfast (the tweenager was still slumbering). He asked if he could have eggs and could he help make them. He had a “family secret” that would make them extra delicious.

“Really?” I asked playfully. “So how come I, your mother, is unaware of this family secret?”

“Well, you’re no longer a part of our family, Mom. I told Dad’s girlfriend though because she’s part of Dad’s family now. ”

*Cue heart breaking*

I choked back my tears and told him yes, of course. I understand. He has family traditions at Dad’s place and they are very special and sacred. But if he likes the eggs at Dad’s house maybe he could teach me the trick that made them so tasty. I promised to keep it secret (sorry, but there won’t be a recipe following this post). He acquiesced, whispered the secret in my ear and they were indeed some of the best goddamn eggs I’ve ever tasted.








About Pamela

I’m a Vancouver-based divorced mother of two awesome boys embarking on a respectful, amicable and often humorous co-parenting adventure with their father. By day, I'm a publicist for good causes + companies at


6 Responses to New family, new traditions

  1. Magnolia Ripkin December 8, 2014 at 5:35 am #

    What a lovely take on hard transitions. Your boys are so lucky to have a Mom like you.
    One question, can you post a photo of the year your tree topper is a puffer fish? Because that is just funny.

  2. Pamela December 8, 2014 at 5:53 am #

    OMG we totally need a Puffer Fish Tree Topper! Why haven’t we had one yet?

    Thank you for your love & support, Magnolia. I always write with your voice in my head. xo

  3. Vanessa D. December 8, 2014 at 12:41 pm #

    It took me a lot of years to reach that comfortable place with my ex, mainly because it took him a lot of years to accept the divorce. Now he has a lovely girlfriend who both my boys like and I truly couldn’t be happier. I’m happy I read your post, because it reminds me to make the effort to find out what sort of plans they have for the upcoming holidays and make sure my guys are as available as possible so they can build new traditions too.

    • Pamela December 8, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

      Thank you for sharing your story, Vanessa. Hope you & your boys have a lovely holiday!

  4. Mom December 8, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

    Great Tree has your families Xmas signature all over it I think it’s great to see that quirky spirit put into the holidays.The division of the festivities and new memories can be heavily felt by both parties involved but new is great and even though the old will always be remembered they were times you should not completely forget.

  5. Lisa R. Petty December 8, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    I just teared up over that egg recipe. I’m divorced, too. My divorce was 13 years ago, though, so I can tell you that it gets easier with every year. Good for you for coming up with your own traditions. You have inspired me to make latkes, though, and I will hound you forever for that egg recipe. Hugs!

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