How I Survived My First Christmas After Divorce

Love & Learn 8

I did it you guys. I survived my very first post-separation Christmas, and I only cried in front of people twice! Hey, that’s pretty good. And in all fairness, one of those times was because nobody saved me any caramelized onion and feta tartlets. I take my food pretty seriously.

Everyone says the first one is the roughest. Who this Everyone is, I have no idea, but Everyone always thinks they’re right. They might be. I don’t know yet, this is my first Christmas since 2000 without my soon-to-be-ex-husband by my side.

It was good and bad, there were highs and lows, and a whole lot of just getting through it.

I had the kids this year, per our custody agreement. First of all, it’s weird having a custody agreement, but it really helps during these times so there’s no ambiguity. Christmas (in our case) is considered to be from 5 p.m. on December 24 to 8 p.m. on December 25. Odd years are mine, even years are his.

More from The Stir: Celebrating Christmas With the Kids, Divorce-Style

It also helped to remember all the things my ex didn’t like about Christmas. I’m kind of a Christmas freak, but a lot of it he could take or leave. And there were a lot of things he barely tolerated -- like Santa. We weren’t even allowed to do the Santa thing, until our first daughter was a toddler and insisted that Santa was real, and Dora was too. After that he just kinda turned a blind eye to it, but I never really felt comfortable tiptoeing around about it. If I tried to talk to him, he would say I was just feeling uncomfortable about lying to the children.

But this post isn’t supposed to be about everything that went wrong in my marriage, so let’s move on. Let’s just say that Santa came to our house this year, and the kids and I celebrated it with relish.

I let the kids be sad when they needed to be sad. I told them I was sad we couldn’t be a family anymore too. By acknowledging the sad parts, we can experience the feeling, grieve the loss, and begin to heal. Part of us will always be broken from all of this, but Christmas is a time for us to focus on Jesus and the miracle of a baby born to heal our broken hearts. So when they needed a cry, I’d hold them and tell them that I loved them, and their daddy loves them too, and would they like to play or read a story or have hot cocoa with peppermint whipped cream? Life goes on.

My friends. My awesome, fabulous friends. They checked in on me all day from all over the country. It helped to feel not so lonely.

My family. My parents live nearby, and we spent a lot of time over at their house. Aunts, uncles, and cousins stepped in too. The girls had a ball, and I didn’t feel like it was all on me.

Just breathing. Sometimes when feelings got reeling, I just had to close my eyes and take a deep breath. This too shall pass.

I handed them over to their dad at 8 p.m. last night, both of them so excited for Christmas 2.0, and to see the friends and family that he got in the divorce. And as hard as it was to let them go, I’m glad their dad is making a good Christmas for them. Who knows? Maybe even Santa came.

Is the first Christmas really the worst?


Image via Tom Cochrane/Flickr

breakups, divorce, exes, single moms

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nonmember avatar MoJo

Hang in there Jenny. It sounds like you have a great support system and that you are doing all you can to make things the "new normal" for your family. Things will get easier to handle, and I've found everything settled down after my own divorce was finalized. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and move forward to wherever life takes you. Merry Christmas!

nonmember avatar Anowscara

Yes, it really is hardest the first year. Good for you for getting through it.

nonmember avatar NoWay

Speaking from experience ... next year will be harder because you won't have the kids on Christmas morning. I dislike Christmas because it is the day I was always most lonely. (It's not so bad now that my kids are older and I am remarried). This year, we had Christmas morning at my house and my ex-husband came over and had coffee and cinnamon buns with us. Perhaps your relationship with your soon to be ex will be as good as time marches on. Wounds heal. Relationships change. It will be ok.

jec72579 jec72579

I hate to say it, but I agree with NoWay. Next year will be harder, because it will be another first. Your first ever Christmas without your kids.


But, you will get through it, and you will see them that night, and the next year it will be better. After that it will get easier.

nonmember avatar Keara

Just to chime in as one who was a child with divorced parents, mine did the split custody and holiday switchings-off and it was really, honestly fine. Our Christmases were, the night with one parent, we could sleep as late as we wanted, relax, hang out, and then when we felt like it, go over to the other house. What complicated it was the blended families after remarriage and new children. But honestly, it always worked out, and we had a lot of those shared cinnamon bun moments the other commenter spoke about. It's really, honestly, not so bad. But, I dooo have to stress flexibility, sometimes there were vacations or day trips or just school projects that meant we didn't always follow the custody agreement, and it was really nice when there weren't arguments over this. But yeah, I don't know, it all worked out haha

nonmember avatar Youknow

So, how much are you milking this guy for? You know, your ex? The one who also just spent Christmas alone? By the way, he could easily be getting the sympathy vote from a 22 year old right now. Not saying he is since you guys are so christian. I am just saying, he is somewhat famous thanks to the manosphere. As are you.

lazyd lazyd

I agree with others here - i think NEXT year will be worse.  I am the same as you.  This is our first cmas divorced.  I get the kids on odd years & he gets even years.  But since I had to move to TX from CO to have the support of my family to have a place to stay & a job my kids are with me for their two week winter break.  So next year I wont see my kids AT ALL for cmas PLUS my family wont be here cuz they switch off with my brother in law's family.  So this year we had a GREAT cmas with everyone, but next year it will be NOONE!!  :(

nonmember avatar Lovelygirl

It's definitely true that next year will be harder, BUT it's not impossible. This was my first Christmas (EVER) without my kids. They were at his place from the Friday before Christmas to the Friday after (It happened that the weekend before was his regular weekend, and I also wanted to allow them to have the day after Christmas too since opening presents and then leaving them is anticlimactic). And I was fine. Yes, there were a few tears. BUT... I also got to take my time wrapping the gifts (on Christmas day while binge watching Parenthood) and got to go out the day after Christmas to take advantage of the sales! Plus I had a few days of uninterrupted ME time which was a great Christmas present to ME. LOL Though I think in two years, I'm going to do a cruise over Christmas.

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