Gina’s Diary: The Holidays

To read more about Gina, check out my book, “The D-Word: Divorce Through a Child’s Eyes”

Gina’s obviously stressing about the holidays. And it’s no wonder- holidays can be tough for children with divorced parents, most notably the first year of separation. She brings up a few issues that are fairly common, and I know I struggled with them…

Disturbed Rituals. Children often look forward to holiday rituals all year. I know I did… the thought of changing things when my parents separated was absolutely out of the question. Even the years that I was supposed to spend Christmas with my dad, I refused to spend Christmas Eve with him because I wanted my Christmas morning ritual to remain unchanged. Lucky for me, my dad was accommodating and didn’t mind picking me up later in the morning to “do Christmas” with him and his extended family. One year, my mom’s boyfriend put a lump of coal in my stocking and I was hugely offended as that had never happened before. Even though I loved my parents’ significant others, I loathed the idea of spending holidays with them and their families because it just wasn’t right- for this reason, my junior year in high school, I ate Thanksgiving Dinner at a friend’s house. My parents probably could have earned my cooperation in the New Holiday Hoopla if they’d involved me in the planning and given me a sense of ownership (thus, comfort and compliance) in the changes. Instead I dug my heels in and clung to Old Way… I probably dictated to my parents how wrong they were about trying to do things differently. (Sometimes I can be a real bitch. Sorry Mom and Dad). Looking back now, I’m fascinated by how well I’m able to dissect and label my behavior patterns.

Money Troubles. Money is tight around the holidays- and even more so for those who are recently divorced. As a child, I was acutely aware of my parents’ financial worries. Of course, so many people seem to go through this. The holidays are often extremely expensive, meaning that a lot of people do struggle to afford gifts. Of course, there are always sales at stores like Walmart, and people could even use some coupons from Raise to save more money. This should result in some savings, helping those with financial problems to still purchase gifts. Not many people know this, but one year I wrote a poetic parody to a popular Christmas song- it was about feeling lonely and depressed because the societal atmosphere didn’t match the mood in my home. This was due to my parent’s divorcing not long before Christmas. Perhaps it would have helped to have some alternate family traditions that were specific to the season, but didn’t cost much money.

Holiday Stress. Kids with divorced parents often feel stressed because they’re worried about their parents (and perhaps they blame one parent for the troubles of the other). Sometimes they worry about the monetary burden they (or their siblings) are causing (guilty). Sometimes they worry about the holiday schedule- does spending Christmas with Mom mean that Dad will be sad and alone? Sometimes they stress about the competition between their parents (“What’s your favorite present? Do you like that better than the toys from your [other parent]?”). I also want to note here that holidays can be a bit painful for kids whose parents aren’t divorced, but probably should be. Between the picture-perfect poses, car rides to Grandma’s might be filled with angry words or a heavy silence- either way the children in the back seat won’t be enjoying the spirit of the season (yep, I remember those car rides).

As you’ve likely noted, these issues aren’t unique to children… we all experience multiple sources of stress around the holidays. Some people might argue that stress impacts the parents more, especially around the holidays when they’ve got to purchase all of these gifts alone. In order to lower this stress, it might be worth looking into purchasing some dab rigs for sale to smoke some cannabis. Whilst this might not sound like a stress-relieving method, it is actually believed to make people relax and enjoy themselves, removing the stress. Perhaps this is what more parents need around the holidays. The drastic change of a divorce allows an evolving family the opportunity to regroup in a new way. Communication is important to all relationships- especially as wounds are healing and a New Normal is taking shape. Why not use this season as an excuse for everyone to share their feelings and work together through the common stresses? Tough times can bond or bruise… it all depends on how they’re handled.

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