You guys, I’ve turned into a total Christmas Nut. I don’t know how it happened! In 2008, I wanted nothing to do with Christmas. To the point where, when we got home on December 23rd from dropping SSA with his mother, we took down the tree and smashed old ornaments in the dumpster. (Also: case in point at how awesome R is. He didn’t once question my Grinchiness. Love that man!)
In 2009, SSA had moved in with his mom and was visiting us for Christmas. Not a fun lead into the holiday season. That was the Christmas when he told us he wanted to move back in with us. While R was glad to have him back, it created a lot of stress. Little K had been with her dad since Thanksgiving and, while I didn’t require the tree to come down immediately, everything was packed up before New Year’s Eve.
In 2010, we spent Christmas in Florida so that I could take Little K to Bippity-Boppity-Boutique for her birthday. We had a good time and even went to Christmas Eve service but I can’t remember if we put up a tree at home. I do, however, remember that it snowed in NC all Christmas Day and that I was bummed at having missed a white Christmas.
Last year, I was getting better. It was just R and I for Christmas. We had decorated the tree with the kids before sending them to their other parents for winter break. We drank wine and watched Scrooged by the fire on Christmas Eve. I listened to my fave Christmas albums and made Osso Bucco with parmesan risotto. We Skyped with my parents and went to the movies on Christmas Day. Not too shabby! It was our first Christmas spent at the new house and it felt pretty good.
But this year? My, how things have changed. I LOVE Christmas! I began planning the decorations in November and started stealthily decorating on Thanksgiving. I couldn’t wait to put up the tree and the new garland and decorate the mantel! I’ve been listening to Christmas music in the car, at home, and at my desk since Thanksgiving Day. I began purchasing Christmas presents in November and stocking stuffers since August. I can’t wait to go to service on Christmas Eve!
I know that a big reason for the improvement is Little K starting school. She is actually here for decorating and celebrating and wrapping instead of gone since November. I can do advent calendars and talk to her about Jesus’ birth. Little K is old enough to be excited about Christmas and I love seeing it firsthand instead of over Skype. She is an absolute joy, especially around the holidays.
I think this shows that I am healing, too. I’ve accepted that Little K won’t be with us on Christmas and that’s okay. She will be spending time with her dad and grandparents and having a great time. Winter break at her school is only ten days, which is just long enough to have a fun visit and not long enough to need any serious discipline. She can have a great visit filled with events and gifts and then come home before daily life sets in. No reason to stress. I can just enjoy the reduced parenting responsibilities, grab a date night with R, and take the time to soak in the tub. Good times.
This year is tough on R, though. The boys will be with us. At first, I thought that would help him but it’s just making it harder. If SSA still lived with us, we would be on our own for Christmas. SSA being with us for the holiday will be a reminder for R of what he has lost. He’s good at putting on a brave face, but I’m sure that R will be hiding out in his office quite a bit. I’m hoping that R and I can find a few moments alone during the week to enjoy each other.
R has the added pressure of needing to talk with SSA about his living arrangements for the 2013-2014 school year. I’ve really stepped away from this one, leaving it in God’s hands. Prayer for him, the conversation, and everyone’s reaction to the final decision is appreciated. No idea how that will turn out...
The one shining light is New Year’s Eve. The boys will be back in SC and Little K will be home. We can also look forward to doing Christmas and birthday presents with Little K when she gets back. I’ve asked R if we can leave the decorations up until January 1st. I just hope that R is not heading back into depression by then and we can celebrate our little family for a few days.
This isn’t how I expected my life to be. I never saw divorce and custody arrangements in my future. I never expected to be fielding broken homes and (situational) SIF. But my life is filled with love. And I am finding my joy again.
God is good.