Christmas tree made of stars

Better Not Bitter
Christmas Without My Kids

I am really looking forward to celebrating Christmas this year. I always enjoy the Christmas season but this year is very special.

My youngest spent Christmas 2012 with his dad’s side of the family. He went to New York City by himself and visited with his big sister and her family. My oldest lives in an apartment near the university he attends about 50 miles away. Last year he worked on Christmas Day, so I didn’t see him either. It was the first time in their lives that I didn’t celebrate this special day with them.

As a divorced mom, I’ve been very blessed and lucky that for the past five years, since my relationship ended, I’ve had both my boys here with me every Christmas morning. In years past they would spend Christmas evening with their dad and that part of their extended family, so we all got to enjoy time with them on the holiday.

I am thrilled to have been able to continue a pretty good relationship with both my stepdaughters after the divorce. One of them is married with a family of her own and her brothers and I have visited them a few times. When she called to ask if her brother could spend the Christmas holiday with them last year, my heart almost stopped for a moment. I wanted to say, “No,” right away. But thankfully I took a breath and counted to three and told her I’d speak with him and their dad and let her know soon.

It was one of the toughest conversations I have had since the breakup; I so wanted him to want to stay here with me. But one of our visits to see his sister and her family had been a few days before Christmas 2010. We all visited Manhattan. We saw the department store windows, Times Square and the beautiful decorations. The spirit of the season that only exists in NYC.

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How could I be selfish and deny him that experience with his sister, brother-in-law and niece and nephew? It would allow him to be the ‘big guy’ – the uncle enjoying the holiday in a new and exciting way. So I asked him how he felt. And then I told him I would miss him but I encouraged him to do it. And he did.

My oldest wanted to drive home and visit me Christmas evening after he got off work. He didn’t want me to be alone. But he had to work the next day. I told him not to come. I decided to take this opportunity to do something different.

I realized that in a few years I will be facing celebrating these holidays without my children. One is an adult, although he still needs me. And his brother is not far behind him. I’m like a lot of other baby boomer parents. As a single, divorced mom I need to determine how I am going to handle these end-of-teen, beginning-of-young-adult years. Sometimes they will choose to be with me; other times they won’t. I don’t want to be controlling or needy during these holidays. That only creates more stress and bad feelings.

I decided to make last year’s Christmas Day about me and another single girlfriend. We celebrated the day. I cooked a variety of food and we ate, drank and were merry! I enjoyed the holiday in a different way. But it was special and good.

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This year I want to make sure it’s very special and oh-so-good. Christmas morning 2013 I will be with my sons. I am going to cherish this Christmas as we decorate our tree and sing along to Christmas music. We’ll cook, bake and eat together. Watch movies and play cards. Act silly and play in the snow, if there is any. I will enjoy waking up on Christmas morning and surprising them with gifts they didn’t expect, but immediately love. I will appreciate these moments a lot more, because last year gave me a glimpse of what may be coming in the future.

I understand every Christmas won’t be the same. When you’re living happier after divorce sometimes your celebration won’t include your children. But we can still make them all special.

Do you have logistical challenges on Christmas How do you manage them?


Wilma Jones

Wilma Jones lives in Arlington, VA with her teenage son. Her oldest son is a college student not too far away. She is divorced after 19 years of marriage. Wilma is a speaker and the author of “Living Happier After: 20 Women Talk About Life After Divorce. She blogs at Living Happier She’s on Facebook. Follow her on Twitter @LivingHappierAf. Get her new FREE ebook here.

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