lighted Christmas tree

It’s two days after Christmas and I am starting to relax. Today’s post is an informal rambling about our Christmas. Since the divorce, my ex-husband and I have divided up winter break. I get the first half with the kids and he gets the second half. The best part of this arrangement is that I always have the kids for Christmas Eve and Christmas day. The worst part is that I am so busy preparing for Christmas that I don’t get as much downtime/quality time with the kids. After the hoopla of Christmas morning and all of the meals around the holiday, it is time for the kids to go with their dad.

This year after Christmas, my husband Mark and I took my children to a local deli for lunch right before they left to go to their dad’s house. At lunch, the kids got chatty. It was so nice. I did not want it to end. Prior to this meal, there was not a lot of chatter between us. The kids had their friends over the days before Christmas. They socialized with them. I prepped for the holidays while they did that.

It is hard to share

One night the kids went to their dad’s because it was the first night of Hanukkah. They celebrate Hanukkah with him. I understand the desire to have this tradition with him. It made me sad though. I wanted to have a night with them where I was not working on something. I wanted to have dinner and play games or watch a movie. There are so few nights with all of us together.

This year, we spent Christmas Eve at Mark’s sister’s house. There was a crowd of about 25 people there. My kids talked with me before the party. They said they prefer to have a small gathering to get to know people. They wanted to spend time at home on Christmas Eve. Nevertheless, we all went to the Christmas Eve get-together. We took three different cars so everyone could come and go when they wanted. I bounced back and forth between my new in laws and my children. Overall, it went well. Mark’s family tries hard to include everyone. I enjoy the time with them. I get to laugh and be myself. I want that with our children too.

Pressure to create magic

On Christmas day, Mark, his two sons, my three kids and I, all hung out together for our first combined Christmas. It was kind of quiet as I passed out gifts. I wish I had more energy to get everyone to lighten up and express themselves more, but I also understand that not everyone has the personality or desire to emote as often as I would like.

I wanted to read, play with my new watch and take a nap after Christmas breakfast, but there was not time for that. I played with my watch for 20 minutes and lazily watched Family Guy with my kids. Mark’s sons went downstairs to nap and shower. Then it was time to figure out lunch. Next year, I’m going to make lunch someone else’s responsibility so I can rest and prepare for the big dinner at night.

Many hands make light work

I spoke to Mark earlier in the day about helping with dinner. I had visions of us all working in the kitchen to make Christmas dinner, but at 4 o’clock Mark’s dad arrived. Mark entertained him. My boys were napping, Mark’s boys were doing their own things downstairs and my daughter was painting a picture in the kitchen. It was all me working on the meal. I don’t know what makes me more mad, feeling like I’m doing all the work or missing out on conversations and connecting with my family.

Eventually, Mark volunteered to make the steak bites. I asked my daughter to cut up fruit for the fondue. Mark’s dad included me in the kitchen conversation. The food started to come together. We sat and ate. The food tasted so good. There was even a little banter at the table. My inner tension eased.

What I learned from this first Christmas together is that big hoopla events are  important but so are the small moments around the table. Next year, I intend to focus more on the small times of connection. I’ll have to re-read this post right before winter break.

What did you learn this holiday season? 

Photo by Rodolfo Marques on Unsplash