We do not have holidays spelled out in the Custody Order, rather, we are supposed to work it out, so this is a big deal. I’ve always had the kids at Christmas since our separation, he’s always had them at Thanksgiving. This is really an extension of what happened during our marriage. We spent Thanksgiving with his family, and Christmas with mine. That worked for us. In fact, when we were together I spent Easter and all of the barbecue holidays (Independence Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day) with his family. I traded all celebrations throughout the year just to get Christmas.
Last Christmas when I asked for the kids over Christmas break, he said fine but added that one of these years he’s going to want them at Christmas. That scared me. He meant it to scare me, I believe. But then he and his wife (then girlfriend) went on a beach vacation together over the holidays. He didn’t even spend it with his family, something the kids noticed and openly wondered about. “Why didn’t Daddy spend Christmas with his own family?” they asked. (No comment.) Last week I heard from the kids that my Ex-husband had already made Thanksgiving plans with the kids, his wife, and her extended family (again, not his family, something the kids are upset about, but again, no comment). I hoped that this meant that he would honor our tradition of “letting” me having the kids at Christmas. But one never knows. There’s a new wife in town now. Plus, my Ex can be mean. When I had to speak to my Ex about Summer vacation plans he yelled at me for almost an hour about various unrelated crap before eventually saying, “Go on take them for as long as you want. I don’t care, just let me know.” Haven’t been feeling up for a verbal beat down like that again.
So today, when he informed me he’d be traveling for work and would miss his visitations with the kids for the next couple of weeks, I finally got the nerve to ask him about the holidays. He was completely fine with it, not even a pause. My guess is he had already made plans with his wife anyway and/or assumed I’d take the kids regardless. He assumes and makes plans. I ask permission. (Yeah, I know, I see it, I’m working on it, acknowledging his rights does not mean being a doormat, but this is a lifelong pattern of accommodation I’m dealing with “My High School Self”. ) My Ex-Husband added that he had been planning to tell me that Christmas presents for the kids from him will be sparse this year, his wife isn’t working and he’s struggling. (No comment.) I’m just glad, hell, I’m freaking rejoicing in the fact that now I can openly discuss Christmas and that I didn’t first have to take a verbal beat down for the privilege.
Christmas with my family has a special meaning for me. It’s not even particularly religious, and we’re not wealthy so it’s not about the gifts. It is, however, usually the only time that my small but geographically fractured family gets together. My sisters went to college and moved hundreds of miles away from our home of origin and never moved back. They rarely made it home for Thanksgiving, don’t always make a Summer visit, but have always made it home for Christmas, even after they married and had children of their own. They, like me, often spent Thanksgiving, Easter and Spring Break with their in-laws or their own homes but reserved Christmas for us. It’s always been that way. Perhaps it is because so many of my family members are involved in academia. Teachers, people who work for universities, and students have off the week between Christmas and New Years Day and this is when they can travel and relax. Even now, my oldest sister’s grown children with professional careers make time and arrangements to travel cross-country to be with their grandparents and the rest of the family at Christmas. I know that one day someone won’t be able to make it; I know that one year we will have lost someone. But it is our family tradition to be together, and I look forward to it. My kids look forward to it. I’m just so thankful that today I know for sure I “have permission” to continue the tradition — to spend this Christmas with my kids, together with their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins and that my divorce did not change that — this year. What a relief.
Just Me With . . . holiday plans. Woo Hoo!!!!!!!