When you have children and are going through a divorce, it’s as inevitable as splitting the assets: splitting the holidays. How do you divide the holidays without tearing your family apart?
When we separated in the Spring of 2010, there were several months to process (read: get depressed) and discuss (read: argue) about how we were going to split up holiday time with our boys. The first couple of years were very hard on all of us, but my ex tried to ease the transition by spending Christmas Eve and/or Christmas Day with my family on the Island. Was it awkward? You bet your ass it was uncomfortable for all adults involved – it was especially weird to have him sleeping on my mother’s sofa – but the kids were ecstatic. And not just our children: my nieces and nephew were equally thrilled to have their uncle there to help open presents on Christmas morning. Last year, he decided that he was not going to come over to my family’s place for Christmas Day. It was certainly strange not having us all together for the holidays but it was time for everyone to transition to a new tradtition. My ex recognizes and respects that Christmas Eve and Christmas Day are a big deal for my family and has never asked to have the boys on those days. Also, being Jewish the Christmas holidays are simply not a priority for him. We do, however, still celebrate Hanukkah in both households: my ex lights the lights with his Mother’s menorah at his downtown apartment and I will prepare a batch of latkes for a Thursday Family Dinner at my house. Dreidel games are played by all.
Halloween, although a seemingly lesser holiday, is pretty important for my boys and my ex. They love the costumes, the revelry and of course, the treats (yeah, we’re all sweet on the candy to be honest). My ex traditionally “takes” this holiday: he discusses costume options with the boys, shops for the costumes – often at multiple outlets, and pulls together their ghastly, ghoulish or just plain goofy get ups for the big night. This year, he also offered to come over to my house to take the boys out trick or treating in our neighbourhood. He also graciously helped out a fellow single mom and took her boys out while she & I caught up over a cup of tea and handed out candy at my house. I’m not sure where their own dad was that evening but my friend definitely appreciated the gesture and support.
As for the other holidays – Thanksgiving, Spring Break, Easter, New Year’s Eve, birthdays – we discuss them well ahead of time and plan our respective schedules around what will be best for the boys (and to be honest, Grandma). I know the day will come when new partners will be a part the equation and we will have one (or two) more variables to consider in planning holidays. For now, I’m happy to split the holidays in a sensible, respectful way that allows each of us to have quality time with our kids celebrating old traditions and creating new ones.