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One of the more difficult interesting things about being divorced is figuring out what to do about holiday celebrations.

I have friends who have to negotiate Christmas Eve versus Christmas morning, who gets the children for the morning egg hunt and who for Easter dinner, or what time the holiday dinner is scheduled at each house. Some kids end up having two sets of dinners so everything is ‘fair’, something I could see my child submitting to with great equanimity.

Fortunately, since I am Jewish, the whole Christmas/Easter issue isn’t a big a deal for me. Most of the time. Most of the big Jewish holidays are multi-day affairs – eight for Hanukkah (or Chanukah or Hannukah or Hanukah – you can choose your preferred spelling, I won’t be offended), seven or eight for Passover (depending on your denomination), and both evening and morning services for the HiHos (see the Day of Atonement post from a while back for the explanation) – so for the most part, religious holidays aren’t a problem. Neither, now that I think of it, are most of the non-religious holidays as I get all the federal and state ones off, and my ex generally has to work. Heck, even Halloween hasn’t been an issue as my son prefers to trick-or-treat from home where he mostly knows the people behind the doors on which he knocks.

The sticklers for me are Thanksgiving, which is my favorite holiday (because of the food; you’ve read this blog, right?), and, despite what I wrote above, Christmas, the first because we never really established our own tradition and the latter because we did.

When my ex and I first married, we decided to go the every-other-year route with Thanksgiving – one year at my parents’ house, the next at his – to keep it fair. This worked fairly well until his mother got sick and doing a food-related celebration in November (Thanksgiving dinner followed by the after-party meatball-antipasto-and-second-dessert when the rest of the family arrived) with another holiday following hot on its heels in December got to be too much. At that point, we tried to create a set of traditions, but, to be honest, it always felt like we were grasping at straws.

Then came the divorce, and now, instead alternating years with our families, our son alternates years with each of us. I don’t like it, but it’s the agreement, so until the boy becomes a legal adult at 18 and gets to choose for himself, it’s the way it goes. It does, however, continue putting a crimp in the whole ‘building a tradition’ thing as I have no interest in celebrating Thanksgiving alone because – in case you haven’t noticed by reading my blog – being alone generally doesn’t appear on the list of things I am thankful for. In past years I have spent the holiday with friends or my parents and had a late after-Thanksgiving-Thanksgiving dinner when the boy came home the Sunday after, but (selfishly) what I really want is a Thanksgiving tradition of my own. With my son. (And there’s the selfish part.) I want to spend the day cooking and laughing with him, then devouring what we made. We’ll have to see what the future holds.

Surprisingly enough for being Jewish, my family does have a long-standing Christmas tradition. When I was growing up, my mother worked as a dietitian at the local hospital and used to give as many of the food servers Christmas day off so they could spend it with their families. My dad would take me and my sister to the movies in the morning where we would sit in a nearly empty theater with a couple of Asian families, sitting wherever we wanted, watching whatever blockbuster was out at the time. When Mum came home we would either have our regularly scheduled dinner or get Chinese food.

After I got married, Christmas was spent with my in-laws. Once my mother-in-law’s health made the holiday prep too difficult, my ex and I would go out for a walk and – surprise, surprise – Chinese food after the morning’s traditional present-fest, then we would go back for the antipasto and dessert part of the celebration. After she passed away, we started spending the holiday at home, celebrating what we called ‘Jewy Christmas’ and invited others to join us. Sometimes it was other Jewish friends, sometimes it was folks who do their main celebrating on Christmas Eve or in the morning and are looking for something else to do the rest of the day. Sometimes it was with friends who didn’t have family in the area and didn’t want to spend the holiday alone.

The past two years, my son and I have kept up the tradition. This year, however, Christmas falls on a weekend. One where my son is with his father. So, because of the vagaries of the calendar, I am ending up not having him for either holiday.

I’m trying very hard – and with varying levels of success – not to be bitter about this. Intellectually I know Christmas won’t fall on a weekend again for another six years – I almost wrote seven, until I remembered about Leap Years – and by then my son will be an adult and will either a) have developed some traditions of his own he will want to follow, or b) have a partner with whom he will want to spend the holiday.

(With him having just turned sixteen, I am unable to fully comprehend either of those options right now. But I know they are coming. And sooner with each day that passes. Crap. Have I mentioned I’ve started giving him driving lessons?)

I don’t have a solution to this issue. And I hate presenting a problem issue dilemma without at least one if not several solutions. (I learned this in my Management class from library management god A.J. Anderson; it hasn’t failed me yet.) And to be clear, I’m making a statement, not trolling for invitations.

It’s highly likely I may simply stay home and make myself a really good steak. Ooh, and shrimp cocktail. With latkes on the side. Just don’t tell the boy. He hates it when I make food he loves when he isn’t around to share it with me. (Read: eat mine.)

Ooh, and a Jane Austen film marathon could be fun. I can ensconce myself on the couch with a big bowl of popcorn and a warm cat and look forward to New Year’s as that is one holiday I know he will be home.

I’m sure it will all be fine. Really.


Posted December 7, 2016 by wordsaremylife in random thoughts

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