My Christmases are not how I ever imagined them. I grew up alternating years between my mother and father, dreading guilty Christmas Eve calls to the absent parent, dreaming of “un-divorced” holidays full of big families, spending the whole storybook day in one festive house.
So as you might expect, the reality of a co-parenting Christmas has been a bit of an adjustment. When my ex and I split three years ago, I was worried about how we would make it work. But somehow in dismantling our ten years together, we've assembled our own family tradition, something my 4-year-old son can rely on to be the same, year after year.
He knows that each snowy Christmas morning he will leave my parents' country celebration, having feasted on mounds of meringues and torn countless sheets of wrapping paper asunder. He will board a train and later arrive at my ex's boisterous family feast, greeted by squealing cousins his own age, whom he will chase around the dinner table.
He knows that the next morning, he will spend the day in his plaid pajamas with his parents together, opening gifts we bought separately but present together. He knows that Mama sets up the most beautiful tree, with galaxies of twinkly lights that glimmer of good things, and Daddy decorates charming, candy-filled gingerbread scenes.
Everyone insists that sooner or later, his father or I will tire of this sharing, that one of us will remarry and things will have to change. But this family will always be my first. That's a tradition that never ends.
Scott Neumyer (@scottneumyer) has written for Wired and Popular Mechanics.
You've likely been reading story after story of fun, loving holiday traditions. This is not one of those stories. This is about a holiday tradition my family is desperately trying to stop.
It all started when our now 3-year-old daughter contracted the chicken pox on her first Halloween. Our 10-month-old wore a witch costume and countless red spots. That incident set off a string of bad luck for my family that's stretched through every single holiday season since, with at least one, two, or all three of us being sick on either Thanksgiving or Christmas. Bronchitis. Double ear infections. The flu. Sinus infection. Stomach bug. Upper respiratory infection.
But this year we're taking a stand. We will wash our hands and take our vitamins. We will avoid all human contact in October. We will finally be able to see our families during the holidays without the use of Purell and antibiotics. And I bet we break this vicious “tradition” once and for all. I'd shake on it, but you know how that goes.