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Dan Pearce

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Dan Pearce is writer of the hit-blog Single Dad Laughing and author of the book The Real Dad Rules. Father to Noah, brother to nine, and thoroughly but barely educated on the street, Dan tends to hit nerves or funny bones with his (sometimes humorous, sometimes heavy) musings, rants, and calls to action. He lives with his son in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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When I don’t get my kid for Christmas

By Dan Pearce |

Divorce sucks. Plain and simple. But it doesn’t suck that bad. I mean, life goes on and there are things that get easier and things that get harder, but overall life is just as manageable, just as busy, and just as dramatic as it was before. When the dust settles, anyway.

But that doesn’t mean some things don’t just suck forever. Like only getting your kid every other holiday. And this year is my year to not have Noah for Christmas, and that’s hard.

One of the best things as a kid is Christmas morning. Waking up, hollering at your parents to get out of bed, checking to see if Santa ate the cookies, running in and seeing the serious spread that’s been left out for you, tearing open presents, stuffing yourself on chocolate, and then ripping into all of your new toys.

And, one of the best things as a parent is Christmas morning. Trying to sleep in as long as possible before the kids force you out of bed, eating the cookies so that the kids go nuts when they see only crumbs on the plate, making the spread of presents as eye-popping and exciting as possible, watching your kid’s reactions as he tears open his presents, stuffing yourself on chocolate, and then helping your child rip into all of his new toys.

But this Christmas Eve, I’ll simply be putting some presents out under the tree, staying up by myself to watch old reruns of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and then lying in bed awake, wondering if Noah is also awake in his bed over at mom’s house, anticipating Santa Claus and flying reindeer, and his new smorgasbord of awesomeness that will be his in the morning.

And I will probably lie there wondering if he is too excited to remember that Dad loves him and Dad wishes he could be there to be a part of his Christmas morning. And then at some point I’ll drift off to sleep, only to awake when Buddha huffs his nasty all over my feet to tell me he’s ready to go potty. Buddha doesn’t care that it’s Christmas.

And I’ll trudge downstairs and I’ll see the presents I put under the tree the night before. I’ll wonder what Noah is doing at that very moment. I’ll wonder if he is squealing because the cookies got eaten or because he finally got that new bike he’s been begging for.

And I’ll eat a bowl of cereal. And I’ll dink around on the computer for a while. And I’ll take Buddha for a walk, somewhat annoyed that he doesn’t care that it’s Christmas.

And then my phone will ring. And it will be Noah’s mom and she’ll tell me they’re all done and I can come get Noah if I like.

And suddenly everything that sucked just seconds before is forgotten. And I’m not mad at Buddha anymore. And I get my kid. And I get to see his face light up as he sees that he has more presents waiting for him. And we both stuff chocolate into our faces. And I laugh as he tears into his new toys. And his happiness and excitement are everything I was sad that I was missing. And suddenly I realize…

It doesn’t matter when it happens or how it happens. It only matters that it happens.

And it always happens.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

PS. Any of you divorced parents struggle with not having your kid on Christmas morning?

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About Dan Pearce


Dan Pearce

Dan Pearce is writer of the hit-blog Single Dad Laughing and author of the book The Real Dad Rules. Father to Noah, Dan tends to hit nerves or funny bones with his (sometimes humorous, sometimes heavy) musings, rants, and calls to action. Read bio and latest posts → Read Dan's latest posts →

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55 thoughts on “When I don’t get my kid for Christmas

  1. Paul Wiklund says:

    That was a wonderful post.

  2. Raevyn says:

    As an adult who was a child of divorce (NOT an amicable one), I think you are doing a great job of making sure that HIS needs are put first. Keep in mind too, that this arrangement is GREAT at Christmas for a lot of little kids, because they get to have MORE PRESENTS, and let’s face it, when you’re a little kid, Christmas is all about the presents. And at least you’re close enough to get to see him regularly, AND on Christmas Day. From the time the divorce was final (December 1980), until I graduated high school (1985), we saw our father a grand total of maybe 5 times, and only one of those was at Christmas (although he was supposed to have us 2 Christmases). The year we did see him for Christmas, we had Christmas at his parents house, in Ohio, then when we came home several days later, we got to see what Santa had brought us to TX. We thought it was GREAT!

  3. Deanna says:

    My kids are 25 and 21, but we still say, “who’s year is it”, and I still miss them when its not mine… this year is mine :)

  4. Marisa Gary says:

    I’ve never had my son for Christmas. He’s 14. I totally understand what you’re saying, but we just have different “best thing evers” and eventually, it’s OK, because your life with Noah is about SO.MUCH.MORE than Christmas morning presents. :)

  5. Ellaina Moorhouse says:

    We have a similar arrangement, we both get to see the girls on Christmas but they wake up at their dad’s house every other Christmas. It is so hard every time even though we have been doing this for 13 years. I am so grateful that my ex and I live close enough to still share them on Christmas, but I still selfishly want to spend the entire day with them.

  6. Graham says:

    This will be the first Christmas since my wife and I separated and I can’t really imagine what it’s going to be like when I wake up that morning without my little girl (4 years old) there with me. Like you, I’ll have her that afternoon and the two of us will do our Christmas then.

    Guess I’m just commenting to thank you for sharing everything with us and to let you know that you’re a real help for those of us going through all of these “firsts.”

    I think I will adopt “It doesn’t matter when it happens or how it happens. It only matters that it happens” as my holiday motto. Thanks again.

  7. Sandra says:

    You are lucky… to still get your kid on Christmas… there are some parents, like I, who have the rotating holiday but do not get the chance to see them (because of the miles or what have you). And my first Christmas alone/single was a battle and I lost. I called my then soon-to-be ex and begged him to let me have my sons since I knew they had to have opened their presents already. I got him to okay that and he was going to drop them off at 1pm… I didnt get them until almost 4. That was the just beginning… flash forward though and it is still hard being what is called “non-custodial” and try to be a Mom, to be a parent… Somewhere we find the courage to swallow the anger and the hate even if just for a moment when we are not with our kids.

    I get my boys this year for Christmas and I hope to give them the chance to go sled riding for the first time. (It doesn’t snow in Florida)

  8. Kate says:

    This is my first Christmas with my son after separating from his father (we were never married, total heathens). I actually have my son for Christmas morning and his dad gets him later in the day and I’m STILL struggling with the fact that we won’t be together all day. We had a tradition of eating Chinese dinner and going to see the spectacular display of lights on 34th Street here in Baltimore and, alas, I won’t be doing that this year. It’s tough, man. I get it. I think the key is finding ways to occupy yourself. In my case, I might start a new tradition of going to a movie by myself. Because THAT isn’t sad! :)

  9. Jennifer says:

    I’m a single mom to a 3 year old. His father has chosen to step out of the picture. Personally, I think you are amazing. So many fathers chose the path that doesn’t include their children, or their children are just a part-time thing. My family is very close and my mother works for a hospital, so we are celebrating Christmas on Christmas Eve (even Santa). A great solution between you and Noah’s mom could be to alternate Christmas and Christmas Eve. That gives each of you a full day with Noah to open presents and just enjoy him and that gives him a full day with each of you. It seems as if you are on good terms with her and you could alternate Santa too, for the time being. Have Noah write a letter and tell Santa which house he will be in and then work with his mom to ensure lines don’t get crossed.

  10. Connie says:

    This is one instance where celebrating more than one winter holiday is good. In our house, we celebrate Yule and Christmas. I get the kids for Yule; their dad gets them for Christmas. We come together as a big family on Christmas Eve for dinner and gifts between the bunch of us, and then they go home with him.

    I admit the first year without them Christmas morning was hard, but their father is a Soldier, and he’s missed so many due to the Army, that I cannot begrudge him the honor now that we’re divorced.

    And the kids, yeah, they make out like bandits!!

  11. Misti says:

    I live close to my ex and so we split Christmas. One will have Christmas Eve, the other Christmas Day and then we alternate every other year. I am glad that we can share the holidays, it shows the kids comprise is always an option

  12. Myk says:

    I Feel The Exact Same Way You Do. We Divorced In 2008 I Got Them That Year For Christmas Which Was Wonderful. Then The Next Year Christmas Just Became Another Day To Me. Even Though Commercialism Isn’t What Christmas Is About I Felt Lost And Unable To Get “In The Spirit” Until The Day After When My Daughters Returned Very Happy To See Me And To Make Sure Santa Had Been To My House As Well. Thanks For The Article.

  13. elizabeth says:

    I struggle with the same thing, but my daughter’s father and I live 6 hrs apart, so she will be with him from the 23rd til the 2nd, and she goes back to school on the third. So at best I will have half a day of Christmas with her at home, and we don’t even get to stay up late because of school the next day.

  14. Aimee Holthaus says:

    You could always do like we do. Let him stay with him Mom until 6PM so he gets to enjoy his toys and presents and holiday. Pick him up and make it Christmas Eve at your house and make it be Christmas the next day. The kids win that way in my opinion.

  15. Melissa says:

    I am a newbie to your blogs, and I must say I am quite impressed. And relieved. So many parents today, adults for that matter, don’t realize that children hear every word, from around doorways, down halls, and from phone calls made outside where we hope they won’t hear. They don’t realize that the children pick up on the “look”, the tone, or even worse the direct anger/frustration fueled comment. They don’t seem to realize their ripple in their child’s pool. To find your blogs, your readers, the like minds is sooo very refreshing. To see others cope in healthy manners to some of the same hellish realities, and some times they even go beyond healthy and straight to extrordinary. Well, it warms my heart. Thank you for doing what you do.

  16. Leslie McDonald says:

    I love this post. I don’t have any children myself yet but I do remember being a child of a divorced family and enjoyed my holiday time with both parents (who were both happier post-divorce). However the bickering back and forth about who was going where when and feeling guilty over not being able to be both places at once wasn’t as joyous, nor was it a delightful time to listen to either of them complain about the other, the divorce and who got what out of that. I am always happy to hear about when people are able to put their feelings aside for their children’s sake and not stick them in the middle of things after a divorce, Christmas time or otherwise. I think it is probably normal to harbor some not-so-happy feelings after a divorce and also just to miss seeing your kid(s) on Christmas morning but I think you hit it right on the mark by just letting all the unhappiness melt away before picking your little one up for their time with you, after all, that time should be spent happy, not wallowing in the past or dwelling on the morning you didn’t have that day.

    I also think that a lot of people get stuck on their idea of what a traditional Christmas morning should be, try making up some fun new traditions that are suited just to the two of you and the time you get him, make brunch together, hide presents around the house and let him seek them out, make believe and tell him a funny story that “Santa told you” or some ridiculous catastrophe Santa had at your house last night while he wasn’t there. My mom had a friend who was a broke single mother and so instead of buying expensive bags of candy and baskets for Easter they would go outside and have egg fights (like with water balloons, only messier) her sons loved it. Kids remember fun the quirky things they do with their parents way more than what presents they got or whose house they woke up at in the long run anyways.

  17. Lala says:

    As a Step-parent who cannot have her own kids, it kills me every year that we never have my Stepson (6) for Christmas eve or Morning (the custody is screwy). Finally, this year he’ll be over here on the 26th, and a special letter from Santa is arriving via “Elf” to let him know that Santa is stopping by our house that night on his way to his “Vacation” with Mrs. Claus. Purely selfish on our part? Maybe. But Santa will come and maybe we’ll finally get to enjoy some Christmas magic with him instead of sitting alone at home, or dragging ourselves to a family members house where they will whine about their kids all day…

  18. Sharon says:

    My husband did for years. The girls (3) loved having Christmas with us. When they weren’t here, we sent big boxes of wrapped love. It was really hard to have to call them to say Merry Christmas. We were only allowed a few minutes to speak with them (still a sore spot with both of us). Now that they’re married and on their own there are no problems, except the missing them ones. And…..I admit to being a little snitty myself. I sent things to the girls that would make a lot of noise-harmonicas, recorders (flutes)…yeah, I was snitty. Found out later she took them away so she wouldn’t be bothered with them…

  19. Christina Gartenmayer says:

    My ex husband and I have went our seperate ways October 2010. He has since decided that our kids are an option. He has not supported them emotionally or finacially. I have been going back and forth with him by email today/last night reguarding the fact. we were not being nasty just trying to come to some conclusions and agreements but I told him that he needs to stop hurting them. His reaction to me today, not 20 mins ago was that he will draw up papers giving up his rights to them. It hurt to know they mean so little to him but at the same time it made me think and really drove home what is important. You are right, It’s not the When or the how, it’s the fact that it does happen. Its the WHO that makes Christmas or any day for that matter, special. I am here struggling to give my kids Christmas because I am mostly deaf and I have been very stressed out about it, But now I am not worried because I know that no matter what they have under the tree or not they will ALWAYS have me. And I them and the best gift we can give each other is our love. So you are right it doesn’t matter when it happens or where. It matters that no matter what, you know that you love each other enough to make it happen. Hope you and Noah have a wonderful and blessed Christmas.

  20. Michelle says:

    My situation is a tough one. My son’s father hasn’t had anything to do with him since he was 2. He didn’t send him a Christmas card for his 2nd Christmas and was only there for a brief time on his first. My son is a great kid, celebrating his 10th Christmas (which is quite scary because that means I’m getting old!). My 2nd husband was convicted of assaulting me when I was holding my daughter and blocking his path to get to my son when he was drunk. (That’s a long story) In our divorce decree we went back and forth on the visitation schedule for months. Finally we settled and my ex sees his daughter and step son at least 3 days a week with one of those days being a sleep over. For Christmas I usually try and take his feelings into consideration and invite him over for dinner so that he’s not wandering around on his own. Every year he finds an excuse not to come. As long as we live within 100 miles of eachother my ex gets the kids from December 20th until Christmas Eve at 8PM. I get them from Christmas Eve until December 29th. I’m not sure how I’d feel if I couldn’t wake up with my kids on Christmas morning and see their faces. It’s the reason that I invite the man that almost killed me into my home once a year. I guess it’s my way of extending an olive branch, sadly he has yet to pick it up. I’m sorry you will spend your morning missing Noah. I do know that he will never be so excited that he doesn’t think about his awesome Dad on Christmas morning.

  21. Jennifer says:

    I feel like I had the best arrangement growing up: my father got me at Thanksgiving in Maine, my mother (who I also lived with) got me for Christmas in Mass. It never wavered even when I went off to college or got a place of my own. The only time it stopped was when my father’s mother died and we stopped the tradition (a few yrs after her death) since it was HER favorite holiday. When Thanksgiving comes around, it feels ‘wrong’ not to go to Maine for the holiday. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have the most wonderful memories of Thanksgiving in Maine with my father’s family and I have the most wonderful memories of Christmas in Mass with my mother’s family.

    My cousin has the arrangement of switching holidays with her ex. It seems it would be so confusing for the kids, even if their father lives in the same town. I guess as long as the kids feel loved and safe and secure, it doesn’t really matter who gets them for what holiday.

  22. Aimee says:

    This is my first “divorced” christmas and we haven’t set a schedule up yet. I do have my son for christmas this year though but I actually felt bad for his father having to bring him back on christmas eve to me so my son is with me on christmas morning. I don’t know how I’ll do it next year when I don’t have him. Does it get easier?

  23. Rene' says:

    After reading this piece and the comments that followed, I realized just how lucky I am! I have 3 children (17, 5 &3) and their father and I are seperated pending a divorce for what will be our second Christmas now. We are very much amicable and just like last Christmas we will spend Christmas Eve at my family’s house followed by the 5 of us returning to mine and the childrens’ home where we will both put them to bed and each do our Santa part… Their dad will go home to his home and be back early in the morning to wake us up to enjoy christmas morning with our children. We, as of now, do not split our kids. They live with me primarily and he and they have the option of visits pretty much whenever they want. He is their day care provider right now so he sees them everyday and although our arrangement is odd to most everyone it is what works for us and our kids and in my opinion no one misses out, because I know me well enough to know that I would not be ok waking up any special day without my kids, but I’m also realistic enough to know that neither would their dad!

  24. Kirk says:

    In the spirit of putting the kids first, we also share Christmas. Last year was our first year separated and they were at their Mom’s house. This year we are Divorced and they will wake up with me. Our difference is, I went to her house for the early morning stockings and tree there last year and she came to my house to do the same in the afternoon. This year we sre still doing it together but in opposite order. We don’t always see eye to eye or agree (obviously or we would still be married) but we agree that we both love our kids and not seeing them on Christmas morning is a loss neither of us wants to bear or wants the other to have to bear.

    Maybe some day we will do it separate, but with the youngest 3 this year it still seems the best for her, and so far for the older kids, and truth be told, us too!

  25. Angelica says:

    Growing up as a blended family, we didn’t have Christmas Day…we had CHRISTMAS WEEK!!!! Some of my classmates felt sorry for me because I couldn’t spend Christmas with …(mom/dad/whatever). But I looked at them like they’d grown a new head. Let’s see, we start on Christmas Eve with one set of parents, Santa comes, chaos and toys occur, visit with one set of grands, then off to the next set for supper; all with gifts lovingly handed over….like any family. But the best part??? the BEST??? Was that on Boxing day it was like Christmas ALL OVER AGAIN!!! I get to repeat the prezzies and chaos, visit ANOTHER SET OF GRANDS! with prezzies, of course. Then off to the next set for dinner!! and PREZZIES!!!

    Sometimes, we couldn’t see one set of family in the same day as another (grands especially), so then we’d go see them the next day…and the next. Now look at this from a kid’s point of view!

    My classmates got all jelly once they realized that I got double the gifts and dinners and cookies and pie and cake and ice cream and candy and ….. and… and….LOVE. They didn’t like me much after that…especially when I wouldn’t let them bully me either.

    So, thankful Noah gets to have and appreciate the best part of being a kid in a blended family. It really is TEH AWSUM!!! Double the love, prezzies, celebrations, parties, goodies….and everything that is good about being a kid…..X2!!!!

  26. Nate says:

    Lately the holidays have become a sort of void for me. I have a six year-old boy who will be having a festive time with my ex-wife and her family. Unfortunately this isn’t a celebration I am likely to be a part of for the foreseeable future, maybe ever…
    You see, I am a gay dad. And while my ex-wife doesn’t keep me from being involved in my son’s life, she is a fiercely protective mom who takes great pains to make sure that our son is oblivious to his dad’s lifestyle. I have a partner of four years whose two teenage boys are very much involved in our lives. Yet I find myself wanting more. I want to have a relationship with him that doesn’t have to be at a distance. The problem is that conversations with his mother have gotten us nowhere. She remains firmly convinced that a close relationship with me will only bring my son problems. We do agree that he is too young to get into specifics about the nature of our relationship, but I would love the opportunity to have a “family Christmas”. Just once.
    I agree whole-heartedly. Christmas without my son sucks. Maybe one of these days Santa will bring ME a present and soften up his mother’s heart.

  27. Ali says:

    I’m fortunate that I get my daughter on all major holidays and during the school year. I’ve tried for the past two years to encourage her dad to be involved, but he is simply wrapped up in his own life with his new wife. I adore this blog because it reminds me that there are great dad’s out there and that continuously pulling my daughter’s dad into her life is the best thing I can do.
    I love the 2am wake up “mommy, is it morning yet,” 30 min later “what about now”…It breaks my heart to think of anyone missing out on those moments.
    @Aimee…I don’t know if it ever gets easier, but you do get used to it.
    To quote the article “it doesn’t matter when it happens or how it happens, it only matters that it happens.”
    Make each moment precious and don’t allow yourself to experience unnecessary stress of thinking that you’re at fault. The time you have is precious…
    If I didn’t have my daughter on Christmas I’d make up a new holiday, just for us; presents and all

  28. Kristen says:

    I have to say I am really blessed, Christmas morning has always been at my house – but I know that empty feeling when Christmas afternoon my daughter leaves. This is the one thing I can say undeniably my ex-husband & I have done right – he is ALWAYS welcome here Christmas morning. He’ll get here early Christmas morning & get to see the excitement on my daughter’s face. Then, my daughter & I will spend time with my family and her father will go out to protect & serve.

  29. Kate says:

    Aren’t you and your ex good enough friends that you two can somehow work out a joint Christmas morning? For Christmas give you, your ex and her husband, and yourself the Christmas gift of a complete Christmas Morning. Have them over to spend the night or call them as soon as Noah awakens (but before he gets to go to the tree and and when they get there call him to the front room where everyone HE LOVES is there wanting to be a part of this exciting moment. Then have a big breakfast together and then go about your days either them with Noah and you home to be off on whatever your plans are or you and Noah off to spend the day together and them off to wherever their Christmas Day plans take them. The point is MAKE YOUR OWN Christmas traditions that can include everyone and a wonderful moment…Worse comes to worse, find a neutral meeting ground for Christmas morning and o things there…but if you and your ex really love trying to work things to the benefit of Noah, I don’t see why a combined Christmas morning couldn’t be worked out as well…

  30. Candace says:

    This is my first Christmas without my little man, he will be with his dad this year from the night of the 22nd until 7pm Christmas night and it sucks for me. For little man it is awesome he gets two Christmas celebrations and at the age of three ( he’s only two weeks away from the age of four) that is cool. I have never had a Christmas morning without my children when they were little. My oldest lives over 3,000 miles away from me now and I hate not having him here for the holidays but he is 21 and making a life for himself on the other side of the country without any help, so I am proud of him. My 17 year old will hopefully be around for Christmas for many years to come but you just never know, he may get the desire to move out of state and go spread his wings somewhere else. I cherish the memories of all our Christmas mornings together.
    Having the every other Christmas schedule with my little man I figure I only get about 7 or 8 more Christmas mornings with him and he will be on his own. Sad sad sad. The bright side is I get 7 or 8 more squeal filled Christmas mornings with laughter and our traditional breakfast of Kringle’s sent from Seattle by my favorite aunt! I get 7 or 8 more mornings of being woke up at 0′dark hundred with an excited kid saying , “MOM SANTA CAME!” and years later “Come on mom get up so we can open presents” I want all 14 or 15 of those morning but my son is lucky, he has a dad who wants him in his life, who wants to share the joy of Christmas with our son. My 2 older son’s did not have a father who wanted to be involved at all so I never had to miss anything with them but sadly they had no choice but to miss out on having a dad who would do anything to be with them on Christmas or any other day.
    So Dan, so what if you have to share your son for Christmas! He is a truly lucky kid to have 2 parents who want him so much. He gets to have 2 Christmas celebrations with the people he loves the most and isn’t feeling loved what Christmas is really all about!?!

  31. Stephanie Neeley says:

    You know when my ex said he wanted a divorce our kids were only 2 yrs old. The thing that devasted me the most was the thought of not having them with me over the holidays and summer. It just broke my heart to think about it. Here we are over 3 yrs later and my heart now breaks FOR my kids because their father never sees them. It crushes me when they ask why he never calls or sees him. It’s been over a yr since he his last visit. He rarely calls them. Last time was on my prompting because they had asked about him. I just don’t understand a parent not wanting to be a part of their childs life. My wish is that my ex will one day be the great father that you are!

  32. Casey says:

    Thanks for this. Please post it every year so I can be reminded when I’m tempted to throw myself a pitty party. Merry Christmas to you and Noah.

  33. Layla says:

    My ex-husband and I shared our son amicably for our first Christmas after the divorce, much as you seem to with your ex. We had plans to do the same but they have since derailed since my ex remarried. The new wife has pushed everything into the court system accusing me of everything from abandonment to abuse and I’ve missed holidays and birthdays for the past two years as I’ve only been able to see my son for an hour here or there. I wish my ex and his wife had kept the same perspective on Christmas, that open sense of wonder, of seeing the joy a child finds in every little detail. I keep hoping for the day I’ll hold my Baby Bear on Christmas morning again, though he’s 7 now and I know I can’t get those years back that are slipping away.

  34. Jackie says:

    Thanks for reminding me to be thankful I have both my kids and my husband this christmas season. We can get annoyed and caught up in it all, but I’m thankful for a hard working husband so we have food and presents. Thanks for pointing that out to me. I’ll be a lot happier for even the annoyances of Christmas this year!

  35. Brita says:

    My Ex grew up celebrating on Christmas Eve morning while my family celebrated Christmas day. We are now both remarried which means 4 families to fit in. Every year, our son stays at his Dad’s house the night of the 23rd so they may have that Christmas morning experience with their little family, and have two more extended family gatherings. He gets dropped off Eve night with us, and we get the Christmas Day morning fun in addition to two more extended family get togethers with us. I am so thankful we have this arrangement, but I still feel the same way on Christmas Eve. There is always that constant thought of him with an emptiness that day. Each year we can tell a little more how exhausting this schedule can be on him. Hopefully he holds out a few more years with this schedule so we all get a chance to share these moments. It’s never easy. But If the motivation is love, all can work out. :-)

  36. Sue Keller says:

    I’m sorry for your sense of loss but I’m more sorry for your child who has to be the one accommodating his parents’ wishes at the holidays, in order to “be fair” to the parents. What about your child’s wishes? What would “be fair” to him?

  37. Amanda says:

    Although my husband and i are not divorced i am sure he will be feeling the same feelings at Christmas that you described. My husband is a sgt in the US Army and currently stationed away from us (his wife and 4 boys) in S.Korea. I have spoken to him a bunch in the last few weeks about Christmas and he explains the same sort of day.. waking up to cereal and thinking of us. He knows its not going to be the worst day ever; that he will get through the day just as he does any days he is away from us.
    In the same respect, the boys and i will be feeling the same longing for my husband during this time. Missing his presence in our holiday. Its never easy to do the holidays solo. I know my boys will be missing their dad Christmas morning.. and have him in their thoughts just as your Noah will.

    Merry Christmas

  38. MLB says:

    This will be my first year without my kiddos on Christmas. My ex left on Christmas Day of last year so it will be my first, alone and I mean REALLY ALONE. My kids leave on Christmas Eve and don’t come home until noon Christmas Day- reading this post gave me some hope that it might not be as unbearable as I thought it might be….

  39. T.J. says:

    My wife and I were separated early this year and all hell broke loose. I decided to respond with divorce papers ending what was many years of torment. Nothing was ever her fault and anything that was done on her part was never apologized for. I curled my tail between my legs and move half the country away. Now, I don’t get to wrap my arms around two of the best things that ever happened to me. My daughter is 15 and a beautiful young lady. My son is 13 years old and is a mini me. I have missed them so much the past 7 months during which I have had only one visit with them. That’s when the depression hit worse and irritability worsened on my part. I was at the point of suicide and tried to take my life with pills twice. I was not getting any easier by no means. This was when I sought help again with a psychiatrist and was placed on two anti-depressants. I’m a much more mellow and relaxed person and I don’t sit around and dwell on my problems like I did before. I have started to focus on how I can be better and what I can do to help others again. It’s good to be back to normal again.

  40. Teresa says:

    Congratulations Dan! Your last two posts have shown that you (and your ex and her husband) know how to be a grown-up. Too many parents just don’t get it. You do. Too many parents are using their children to get back at their former spouses. Noah is a lucky little guy.

  41. Carrie says:

    This is the first time I read your blog, a nice fresh perspective! When my son was in grade 4, he did a public speech on ‘What it;s Like When Your Parents don’t Live Together”. I’ll have to send it to you somehow, email? I think you’d love to see how wonderful their perspective is on it too. :) Merry Christmas!

  42. Jess says:

    I am in the process of getting divorced and will have my daughter (4 years old) with me on Christmas morning. Her father will do his Christmas with her on Christmas Eve morning. Its going to be tough getting used to things like this; I hate having to share her with him since he is the one that caused our marriage to fall apart by having an affair, but in reality its all about her and as long as she is happy that is all that matters! Thanks for this great post!

  43. Lori Trent says:

    Yes, it sucks, but I kind of got used to it, knowing I might as well accept it since I can’t change it. :) And now– I get my son almost ALL the time because his Father really doesn’t care. You know how we’re supposed to share the Christmas breaks and Summer time? Well, his Father just told me I can have him over the whole Christmas break this time. I think he has a new distraction and now just wrote him off. :( I’m glad in a way because he’s really not a good influence for my son, but sad that he doesn’t even care to change it. :( My son is doing GREAT, I might add and is happier when he isn’t forced to go see his Dad. Sad, I know!

  44. Heather says:

    So very true! This will be our first Christmas as a “non-family”.
    I will have my boys in the morning and will then take them to their dads to do it all over agian. I have been struggling with the thought of not being part of their excitement all day but its better than not being part of it at all!
    Im happy that you and yours as well as me and mine are able to see past the differences to allow our kids the enjoyment without tears and sadness!

  45. Manda says:

    I try very hard to keep things amicable between my ex, so we actually share Christmas morning. We alternate whose house it will be at and the other parent will stay overnight Christmas eve so that we can both be with the kids on Christmas morning.

  46. Chivonne Graff says:

    You have written some beautiful things the past few weeks -about how if we stretch, we can move beyond our instincts and egos and love one another. So have your readers. You shared about your son being in the hospital and seeing him with his stepfather. You spoke so kindly of him, and were gracious enough and mature enough to know that Noah’s love for his stepfather and vice versa does not diminish his love for you. I think so often we feel threatened by these other relationships because it touches on the very core fear of every one of us -that we are not enough.
    I married into a family of three children. We do not call our family broken – we call it reconfigured. Though we maintain two households, and the children divide their time between them we consider ourselves a whole family. We do birthdays together, holidays together…our place is small, so every Christmas we spend the night at our ‘in-law’s’ house as we like to call our fellow co-parents. We attend church together on Christmas Eve, come home and stuff stockings and wrap gifts together. My husband and I sleep over, and then we spend the day together. I am in charge of Christmas breakfast – they are in charge of Christmas dinner.
    We plan our gift buying together – so that our children are not getting excessive amounts of stuff – highly probable with four sets of grandparents!
    Neither step-parent has children of our own, and I realize that throws another dynamic into it. And not everybody has four people who genuinely love and respect one another.
    We just decided that our children deserve to have Christmas with their people, and that presence was more important than presents.
    It has been so good for them and my life is so much richer than I ever imagined it could be.
    I know lots of people think “we could never do that.” I think you might surprise yourself if you took a risk! Next year – invite Noah’s mom et al. to spend Christmas with you!

  47. Bobbi says:

    My ex husband and I have been divorced for 7 years and alternate Christmas eve thru morning and Christmas day. We never really got long but last spring he found out he has stage 4 colon cancer at 44 years old and everything has changed. He spent thanksgiving at our house and might Christmas. We are friends again and the kids love it. I’m remarried and my husband is for whatever is best for the kids. In one way this cancer has been so good for binging everyone together and he is successfully fighting it.

  48. Lily'smom says:

    I am a single mom and my daughter was born out of wed-lock, so there luckily hasn’t been any court appointed “holidays” yet. It’s also only her first Christmas(this post makes me so excited f

  49. lora says:

    There is nothing harder than that first christmas morning when it is not your year….. nothing harder. This year is also not my year again. So mother of 11 I will be at work at a family restaurant at 530 am by choice so we can see all the kids that afternoon when they are done with their respective families. ( it is a second marriage for both me and my husband) Only our two littles will be home ages 3 and 4 but we want them to all have christmas at the same time, not watch each other have christmas. Your the best dad ever Dan I am such a fan

  50. MattMC53 says:

    I follow your blog on Twitter and this is the first one I really read and it definitely helps with this first Christmas that I will not be with my son Christmas morning for presents. Sometimes it is hard to share my son especially when I have never had to before, but I know that the only important thing is that when it is my chance to be with my son, that I am truly WITH him.

  51. HippyChic - Oregon says:

    Damn it Dan… You had me in tears there for a moment. I was all ready to write you this wonderfully supportive comment… reminding you that Noah loves you and that it ‘doesn’t matter when…’ and then you hit me in the face with your last few words. I should have known. Hehe. Being a former military wife, I can’t tell you how many Christmases, Birthdays, and other Holidays that felt, if you will forgive my language, half-assed because my husband was gone. So many times, we were not only away from our family and friends, but Daddy was deployed for long periods of time on top of it. A double sized slap in the face that is. We would putter along, the kids and I, and pretend that we were celebrating… but our hearts were never really in it. I did my best to keep their minds off the fact that Daddy was gone… or that we couldn’t go see Mema and Pepa or Tia or anyone else… In the end, I don’t remember a single time when they were overly sad or didn’t have a smile on their faces…. The thing about kids, is, they don’t notice, much. It is us as parents that take it hard when things don’t go right… because WE know how things SHOULD be. Kids are resilient and forgiving. They tend to understand and accept things that we have a hard time with because WE over complicate them.

  52. Krystal says:

    This is the second year that I do not wake up with my children – you see, they live with their dad and while we share the holidays, they cannot sleep at my house because its too small so they wake up with dad and step mom – so yeah, it’s not easy…but on the other hand, I get to celebrate Christmas early with them this year. We will have Christmas this Thursday because they are going with their dad and step mom to her parents house after they tear in to their presents because she has her daughter this Christmas morning and they have many traditions that they like to participate in. So, I agree with you – it doesn’t matter when it happens, as long as I can see the smile on their faces, the surprise in their eyes and help them enjoy the day – its all that matters!! Merry Christmas!!

  53. SilverRain says:

    This is my year off, too. It is a little sad, but no worse than any day I don’t have them. I just have Christmas the morning after I get them back. They don’t care whether it’s the 25th or the 27th. And then they get two Christmases, and I don’t miss one bit of the fun.

  54. “Thank you, wonderful post! This was the thing I necessary.”

  55. Alley says:

    Damn. After reading so many of these comments, I think I want to try and stop pitying my situation so much. My daughter doesn’t even remember her father, he’s been absent for so long. I’ve been torn between rejoicing this fact since he’s a dumbass in every sense of the word, or feeling bad that my daughter has no father-figure. I think I’ll stop griping so much when I get bogged down by the stress of holidays… at least I have my little girl around. Summers, too.

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