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Thursday, December 23, 2010

Single Parents Alone On The Holidays

Perhaps it was because my mother decided long ago to celebrate holidays before or after the actual holiday (she wanted all of her girls together on the same day). Or perhaps it was because the actual holiday never felt like a holiday unless the whole family was present. Whatever the reason, it prepared me for the first time, after my divorce, when I would not have my children with me for Christmas.

I was a single parent who had to learn how to spend holidays alone – while my children spent holidays with their father. I felt a deep sadness at the loss of what had previously been a family tradition.

Other newly divorced parents or parents who've lost partners through death, find holidays difficult too, but getting used to being alone on a holiday doesn't have to feel lonely, and it doesn't have to be depressing.

What my family discovered was that if we decided to celebrate Christmas the week before Christmas, we could pretend it was actually Christmas. The aroma of food cooking in the kitchen, the festivities, and the laughter of children made whatever holiday we celebrated feel like the actual holiday.

And so it went that on each Christmas morning, when I awoke alone, while my neighbors and practically everybody around me were celebrating Christmas with their families, my children were with their father.

I may have shed a few tears the first couple of times, but on Christmas morning, when I awoke alone, I wished Jesus a Happy Birthday, and told Him we would celebrate the day together, just the two of us. Then I went to the store and bought one last tiny gift for each of the kids, wrapped it, and placed it on their pillows. It might have been simply a Caramello for Christmas or a Cadbury Egg for Easter. It might even have been just a little trinket, but it was just one more surprise that I could look forward to celebrating upon my kids' arrival.

Holidays aren't just dates on a calendar, and they don't have to be celebrated ON the holiday – what gives holidays significance is the love shared by family in celebration of that holiday.

To all the single parents out there, I wish you a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, or a Happy Celebration for whatever you celebrate. May your year be blessed with joyous surprises.

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