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Santa Comes a Day Early Every Other Year: Scenes from a Christmas After Divorce

By carolyncastiglia |

christmas after divorce, race for the best toy, parents competing at christmas

My daughter and her new friend Cecile on Christmas Eve morning.

“Ask your Dad if he thinks Santa is going to come to his house on Christmas, or just Grandma’s house.” It’s my ex’s year to have our daughter on Christmas, and I wanted to be sure she’d have presents to open Christmas morning. My ex is Dutch, you see, and celebrates Sinterklaas early in December. (Sinterklaas is a figure like Santa Claus, if Santa Claus traveled with 6 to 8 black men and didn’t know when Jesus’ birthday is.)

Knowing my ex, I didn’t think he’d bother getting our 6-year-old any additional Christmas presents, especially because he’d already blown his Sinterklaas wad on the American Girl doll I told him our daughter wanted. (In standard “divorced parents who don’t communicate well” fashion, he didn’t mention to me that he actually went ahead and bought the doll. I only found out when I called to see what Sinterklaas brought. Then I was told that Rebecca Rubin is not allowed to leave his house. Another Dutch guy holding a Jewish girl in his attic. Typical.)

“My Dad says he thinks Santa is coming to his house, too!,” my daughter told me, resting the phone on her shoulder for a sec. “Whew,” I thought. Thank God. I called my mother later and said, “Santa is coming to both houses this year.”

“Good,” she said. “But I don’t like the fact that that doll can’t leave his house. I think maybe Santa ought to bring one here, too.”

“Oh boy,” I said. “If that’s what you want to do.”

My daughter hasn’t questioned the Santa myth at all, which might be because we don’t talk about it too much. I’ve never wanted to stress the details with her about Santa climbing down the chimney on Christmas Eve and all that, because:

1) our apartment doesn’t have a chimney.

2) Santa somehow knows to come to Grandma’s house, not ours.

3) when you’re divorced, Santa comes a day early every other year.

My daughter thinks Santa’s first stop on his trip around the world December 24 was Grandma’s house, then all of the homes of the other divorced people. I guess that’s why she didn’t question the fact that Santa showed up at her dad’s during the day on Christmas Eve so she could open her presents that night. (So much for having presents to open Christmas morning…)

But my daughter was more than thrilled with the loot she got, because Santa brought her the few things she really wanted (see below) and the rest of us got her the few things she needed. (Pajamas, socks and underwear are such underrated gifts. I’d still love to get those!) I’m okay with the fact that my mom engaged in the ugly competition to buy the best Christmas gift, because why not, right? I started a dialogue with my ex about the gifts my daughter wanted, and he took the information and ran with it without ever responding. They say all’s fair in love and war, and divorce is where the two meet. As long as my daughter isn’t overindulged (she isn’t) and she doesn’t feel that her parents are competing for her affection (she doesn’t, since neither of us buys much of anything “extra”), one self-satisfied purchase isn’t going ruin everything. Right, Santa?

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Santa Comes to Our House a Day Early Every Other Year: Scenes from a Christmas After Divorce

Santa came!

I love my mom's little Charlie Brown tree, and seeing all the packages wrapped nicely underneath. We're not huge Christmas present people: the kids (there are only 2) get a handful each and the adults get one apiece. But it just looks so pretty and festive.

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About carolyncastiglia



Carolyn Castiglia is a New York-based comedian/writer wowing audiences with her stand-up and freestyle rap. She’s appeared in TONY, The NY Post, The Idiot’s Guide to Jokes and Life & Style. You can find Carolyn’s writing elsewhere online at and The Huffington Post. Read bio and latest posts → Read Carolyn's latest posts →

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10 thoughts on “Santa Comes a Day Early Every Other Year: Scenes from a Christmas After Divorce

  1. goddess says:

    Fabulous piece- and you handle your ex with such dignity and grace- your daughter’s very lucky! Happy Holidays to you!

  2. carolyncastiglia says:

    Well, thanks. Having a sense of humor about things has certainly helped! Hope you enjoyed the holidays, too!

  3. CDN Mummy says:

    OMG. That French toast casserole looks so good! Lucky you and yours.

  4. carolyncastiglia says:

    Here’s the recipe!


    6 eggs
    3 cups of milk
    2 teaspoons vanilla
    16 oz. of cubed raisin bread


    Mix wet ingredients
    Pour over bread in pan
    Refrigerate overnight
    Bake on 350 for 50 minutes
    Melt 1/2 stick of butter on top

    Voila! Enjoy!

  5. Suzie says:

    Too cute! Thanks for sharing a slice of your holiday…looks like happy, fun times.

  6. Lucky says:


    Santa please bring me Ashton Kutcher ;)

  7. Samira says:

    i only hope my break up since we were never married goes as smoothly and well as yours seems to have in this piece though it may be more long distance hopefully it can still work well got any tips on how to make it go smoother?

  8. Jessica says:

    My husband’s parents are both from Holland. I’ll have to ask them if they ever celebrated Sinterklaas as kids. My husband has never mentioned it (he grew up in Canada though).

  9. carolyncastiglia says:

    Lucky – hahahahahaha…

    Samira – If only I could help. Surround yourself by people who love you and who are willing to help you, be honest with yourself and everyone else and get a good lawyer.

  10. Manjari says:

    Love this post, Carolyn!

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