I absolutely love Christmas time! The sights, the sounds, the smells and the sheer fact that it is Jesus’ birthday just make me ecstatic. However, I do know there are many people who hurt and suffer loss during this time of year. I have one memory that I think about every Christmas.
School days during December were always more exciting for my girls. Christmas movies, parties and craft projects all made the days easier. As the bus rolled away one afternoon, I noticed Landon’s steps were a little slower. With both fist slightly clenched, she made her way to the house with her head hanging a little lower than usual. I tried to picture the test grade that had her down or the hurtful words of a friend. Surprisingly, it was neither. She held her hands out to me and in both little palms where two identical, homemade snowmen ornaments. I immediately began to praise her finished products. She replied, “I had to make two. One for your tree and one for my dad’s”. I suddenly didn’t like arts and crafts. My heart hurt for her and once again my circumstances were singling her out. In that first year of being divorced, we had made it through the Donuts and Dad day, along with the family collage projects.
Christmas is not always an easy time for kids whose parents are divorced. They are put in so many difficult situations. As a parent, I still dread working out the details of when I get to celebrate and when I need to share my kids unselfishly. I can remember so many times that I encouraged the girls to go see their dads and then I drove away in tears. That first Christmas we weren’t excited to unwrap all the familiar ornaments. Before the tissue paper revealed each one, I sealed the box back up and we headed for the store. I decided we were going to start afresh and go all new! I ended up tucking the old ornaments away for when the girls get older. We added some new traditions in with some familiar ones and stumbled through our first divorced Christmas.
I will be honest. There are weird moments for me even after being remarried and happy. I still shop for the girl’s dads and having Ridley’s support in that is a huge blessing. We both want to do whatever we can for the girls to not feel awkward or in the middle. So we do what we can to absorb the awkwardness to provide some normalcy for them. Each year brings some new and often unexpected challenges, but our prayer is to give the girls the freedom to express what they really want and we encourage them to not feel like they have to protect the parents.
If you find yourself in your first divorced Christmas, I pray that you discover a new normal. I also encourage you to come up with a new year slogan. I share that little bit of advice quite often. Embrace a new year with a new attitude. I will never forget my divorce was final on December 14th. I wanted the new year to be refreshing for all three of us so we sat down and brainstormed on a “slogan” for the new year. It was 2004 as the three of us sat around our new tree. We threw out some ideas and scribbled some things on paper. We ended up with “The Girls Are Alive in 2005”. The situation didn’t necessarily change much, but our attitudes sure did.