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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

And They're Off...

I do think it is the hardest part of separated families ... the division at holiday times.  The schedules just get complicated and it is always harder for the parent without the children, especially on Christmas morning.  It feels impossible that it is normal to be without your children on Christmas morning.  But this is normal, for some years anyway.  Yuck.

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My children are gone for a week and will arrive home on Christmas evening.  Then we leave the very next day to a long-distance trip.  Somehow, I will squeeze in gifts and a special meal, unpacking from a week with Dad then packing for a trip to visit the family along with making up for lost time with my littles.  I think it's going to be a little crazy.  But crazy is worth it sometimes, especially when the family lives so far away and occassions to visit are few.

Here are some thoughts to remember when things aren't exactly the way you wish at Christmas time -
  1. Remember that it's not all about you.  There are going to be some years that are easier than others.  Your children will reflect your attitude about the season so give them the gift of a positive spirit, of knowing you'll be okay while they spend time with their other parent.  They certainly don't need to feel responsible for your Christmas cheer.
  2. Remember all the loads of laundry you have folded and put away while the children were tucked in bed?  Rember the meals for which you shopped, cooked and cleaned?  the lunchs packed every. single. night?  the ever-cluttered floors, the crumbs all over the tile, the toothpaste encrusted counters?  Remember when you longed for a few hours when the world stopped and you could just catch up?  This is it!  When you vacuum, it will be clean for a few days.  The hampers will stay empty and the dishwasher won't be needed.  I know you need break, even if you don't want to admit it.  Look for the blessing, even when it comes at a cost.
  3. No need to compete.  It's hard to avoid the materialism of this time of year.  Yet more than ever I see how my children are learning to love giving and experiences together more than things.  Keep your traditions and add new ones for new ages and interests.  Time together will be remembered more than anything under the tree.  If the other parent is getting them an amazing gift, be glad, but don't try to outdo it.  This is hard, but it is important.
  4. Reach out - you won't be the only one doing Christmas differently this year.  Have some friends over, go to the mall, visit a museum, attend the Christmas Eve service, embrace other family members.  It's alright to just be sad, but try not to let that define your holiday.
I hope your holiday season reflects the truth that God came near to us because we need Him so greatly.  Christmas is more than just a day, so take every chance that you have to celebrate the Light of the World and the Love you share with others.  I'm so thankful for this place to share - please share some of your holiday treasures, traditions, losses and hopes.  I would love to hear from you.