Creative Commons/katsrcool

Single Mom Slice Of Life:
5 Things I Learned On The Long Road To Christmas

Well, don’t think of it as a belated Christmas posting, thinking of it as a plan to get ahead for next year.  I had a lot of time to think recently on our VERY long drive from Phoenix, Arizona to Sacramento, California.  Our Christmas plans had been, quite frankly, spur of the moment due to lots of life issues, and before embarking on our trip we spent some time with our adopted family who have a tradition all their very own.

It was after that experience, and during our long drive up the California coast that I realized that not only do I have pretty cool friends, but those friends have equally unique traditions.  So in no particular order, here are some traditions from my own family, and some from my friends.


Creative Commons/pinkypea

I have the oddest kids who think about the weirdest things.  One year, after writing the obligatory letter/email to Santa (yes, there are places where you can email Santa now since snail mail is soooo last generation), and baking cookies for Santa, Justin asked, “What about the reindeer?”  Thus began our own tradition of leaving carrots out for the reindeer.  Sure, the whole carrots gets left out with the plate of cookies, but Santa, nice dude that he is, will take the carrots with him, as is proven Christmas morning when the nibbled carrot ends are tossed in the backyard – I mean – when they fall off of the roof after the reindeer eat them.  (Just get used to the taste of cinnamon cookies and carrots – it’s an acquired taste.)

Read more:  Single Mom Slice Of Life: Why Weird Is The New Normal


Creative Commons/najjie

There is so much Christmas wrapping out there – how exactly does the man who knows all also stand out?  In my house, it was literally plain brown paper.  The local butcher or meat station in the grocery store tend to be really understanding people.  I’ve also heard of the Sunday comics, aluminum foil, and one family friend who believed that the fun was the toy, not the packaging, and would stay up all night taking everything out of the boxes and setting up a little wonderland with all the new toys.

Read more:  Single Mom Slice of Life: Welcome Back, Boys; I Hardly Knew Ye


Creative Commons/Chica and Jo

Even though my oldest had outgrown the man in red, my youngest wouldn’t follow for a few years.  Being a single parent means sometimes Christmas is a little lean.  So, with a promise to my oldest that if we would just please be patient, his gift would come soon after Christmas, but I needed him to play along for his younger brother.  To help sell the “behave” theme that Christmas brings, Nick was seen opening a brown paper lunch sack full of charcoal briquettes from the backyard bbq grill attached to a note that said, “I know what you did – be nicer to your brother if you want a better gift next year.”  It worked – Justin believed for a little while longer, and Nick was reminded (by Justin of course) that if he didn’t want coal again next year, he was going to have to be nice.  Two birds… one charcoal brick.

Read more:  Single Mom Slice Of Life: And Then There’s Zen


Creative Commons/i be GINZ

Santa gets the best gifts… for most houses.  It never dawned on me that maybe, for all the hard work I do, to0, maybe I deserve the oooohs and aaaaaws that Santa’s gifts always seem to get.  Now that my kids no longer have that special magic, it’s too late for me, but one of my best friends admits that Santa has always brought the small gifts from the list so that Mom and Dad get the credit they so deserve for the big expressions of excitement.

Read more:  Single Mom Slice Of Life: Teaching Our Children How To Fall



So, like I said, our trip started off with an invite to our adopted family’s own celebration.  It is an admittedly large family, so the ‘grab bag’ method is used where each person gets only one name.  It’s not the gifts that are important but that’s what brings everyone together.  While under one roof for this one time a year, they use the opportunity to have a huge dinner, play games fun for both children and adults, and simply enjoy the family time they don’t get the rest of the year.  The games are always the same, which leads to a lot of in-fun smack talking and stories told from one year to the next, and isn’t that really what the holidays are about?

Read more: 10 From GEM: Easy, Inexpensive Forced Family Fun!
So those are a few of the fun and unique ways my family and friends enjoy the holidays – what are some unique traditions you are most proud of?

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Wendy Syler Woodward has been a single parent for 10 years, with two boys ages 12 and 16. Originally from southern California, Wendy moved her family seven years ago to Phoenix where she manages a law firm for work, writes for fun, and this year returned to college for her B.A. Follow her on Twitter @WendySyler.