Holidays take on a new light when divorce hits a family. Scheduling by the hour and anticipated awkwardness filters through what should be a joy-filled celebration of Christ’s coming into the world. In years past, grief has been huge on my list of all things that make up the holiday season. It was another loss I was grieving from my marriage. The loss of a child waking up with both their parents on Christmas morning to open presents. The loss of our family traditions. The reality of being at Christmas gatherings without my daughter or her being at them without me. If you’re at that point of still grieving those losses, don’t downplay them. They are very heartbreaking and must be properly mourned. I have had a couple of Christmases to adjust and am here to show you God’s hand in the progress.
The progress paints a beautiful picture of God’s faithfulness, but the swings of co-parenting are still jarring from time to time. Some days you feel like a rockstar. Ruling at every part of this crazy life. Laughter comes back, co-parenting is blissful, feeling enamored by your child, and the future feels like it will all be better than just okay. The future feels like you’ve beaten some ridiculous odds and you’ll be that incredible exception to the blended family stereotype. I wish all days were like these ones. For me, there are more of these than the other days.
The “other days” feel like the news of your family breaking up just hit you for the first time. Where the thought of your child having two homes feels suffocating. Days when dropping your child off to their other parent feels you are giving up your baby for good. Catching a glance of your child’s room, empty in your own home feels as if there’s been a death. Why is there no laughter or tantrums or pretend play coming from that room? Why is it silent and stale?
And my two cents on what helps this maddening pendulum? Bask and I mean really saturate in the good. When you have those moments of your new reality that feel joyful, cling to that emotion and store it. You’ll need the reminder on the impossible days. My hope for you is that this Christmas season will be overflowing with those rockstar days.
To help with that overflow, here are my top three tips for a successful Christmas season in a blended family:
Swallow Your Pride. Prepare your heart in prayer for the interactions you’ll have. Pray for your parenting example to be one of unconditional love, forgiveness, self-respect, humility, and kindness regardless of the circumstances.
Focus On Your Child. There’s nothing more magical than children at Christmas time. Nothing should squash that excitement. Let their pure bliss take over your situation. Encourage the joy and stay in that place with them. Your child will always be the brightest of all silver-lining in the heartache you’ve experienced.
Check the Trash Talk. Venting is important, but not meant for holiday gatherings. It is meant for the ears of close friends where children are not present. Remember your child knows that he/she is made up of both parents. If you are talking negatively about half of them, they will start doubting their worth and self-esteem. Give your child the gift of holding your tongue.
I know you’ve found yourself in a crazy life that you can’t control and didn’t sign up for, but what you do have control over is working at creating the life you intended for your little one. Embrace the holidays in this new life. The scheduling by the hour turns out to be pretty fun, more people to celebrate with. And the awkwardness lessens, I promise! Remember my top three and rest in the peace of why we are celebrating in the first place. Christ came into the world to save us in the midst of all our sufferings. Let us not focus on our pain this season, but on the grand miracle that has come to heal it.
Image by She Reads Truth