How the Divorce Stole Christmas
Now that Thanksgiving is over and I am now looking forward to Christmas, I am contemplating my feelings around this holiday. Back in 2007 my now ex-husband asked me for a divorce. It was just as my 2 daughters were coming home from college for their break. When they arrived home for the holidays, they found out their parents were no longer going to be married after 25 years. What a shock to them and to me.
Unfortunately, all of this discussion happened just before we planned on decorating the tree, a tradition we work on together every year. Their dad informed us that even though he had decided to move on with his life, he would not move out of the house. He insisted we have this Christmas together like always. Since it is his favorite holiday of the year, he wanted us to act happy and enjoy it as if the announcement of the divorce never happened. As you can imagine, we were all processing what was happening, not wanting to believe any of it was true. It was an awful Christmas, the worst on record for me.
What was our Christmas future?
The next year, after he moved out, my girls and I had to decide what the new normal would be for celebrating Christmas. For me, Christmas without the father of my children was different. For my children, I struggled to understand how it was different for them. I am not a child of divorced parents, but now my children are. They thought I knew how there were feeling since I was now without their dad. But I explained to them that my husband left, not my dad. That is very different. So they didn’t know what I was going through and I didn’t know what they were going through. We did agree that we all were going through a painful time.
Time passed, and I am now remarried to a wonderful man so my Christmas is with my present husband. My daughters, however, have had to choose who to spend Christmas with each year – Mom or Dad. I can only imagine how hard it is to choose. It’s as if divorce has stolen our Christmas. It will never be the same as the way it was.
A couple of years ago, I became aware that what was stolen by this experience was more than I thought. I found myself in a position of not decorating our house because I was away the week of Christmas. At that time, I was excited that I didn’t have to spend the time doing all the decorating. But when our plans changed and we decided to stay home, it was one week before Christmas and I still didn’t want to decorate. That is when I realized I hadn’t been decorating for myself since the divorce – I was doing it for the kids. I realized I was allowing my divorce to steal my Christmas joy.
Taking back Christmas…
So, I decided to figure out how to take back the joy, the merry in Merry Christmas. I decided to decorate the house and noticed that in doing so, I was also making the decision to take back my joy. Grieving the loss of a relationship takes time. It is also hard work. I think divorce happens and there is so much to figure out that we don’t take the time to feel the effects of the change; to grieve all of the loss that divorce brings.
Now, when I hear the words “Merry Christmas”, I wonder if I am merry. I wonder how my daughters are doing. I know I can choose to be merry and that I have a new normal around traditions. However I have not lost the joy of knowing the true meaning of Christmas. It is about Jesus. God loves me like a treasure and a pearl.