Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Blues? Think Again.

I wrote this piece a few years ago, but the sentiment has stood the test of time. It's worth another reminder:

This will be the first Christmas EVER without my daughters. When you get divorced and your children are split in two, you know this dreaded day will come eventually. It’s like April 15th in December. Looking back, I’ve been blessed with 12 wonder-filled Christmas mornings, over a decade of giddy dawns. It’s been magical. I’ve had a good run. But this year, it’s my ex’s turn to experience all that.

I’ll miss the little things: The frosted cookies on a plate with a note to Santa; the frenzied, last-minute gift-wrapping; getting up before dawn to wait by the lighted tree, hot tea in hand, camera at the ready; and then that Kodak moment, the look of pure joy, mouths forming perfect ‘O’s’ as my sleepy children get their first look at Santa’s handiwork.

Yes, I’ll be alone on Christmas morning. But woe is NOT me, for I have been given the gift of perspective; an epiphany that, like the symbolism of Christmas itself, has come in the form of a newborn baby. Her name is Emilie. She’s sweet and beautiful…and lying in the intensive care unit at Children’s Hospital of Orange County, tubes as long as she is coming out of her in every direction. Emilie was born with a defect that prompted surgery three days into her fragile life. Her parents – my neighbors – are, understandably, on pins and needles. While the prognosis is good, and there’s every reason to believe that Emilie will wake up Christmas morning in her own home, still . . . I worry. I pray. And I count my blessings.

Certainly, I’ll miss my kids on Christmas morning. But there are much bigger heartaches, one being played out just a few houses over. As divorced parents, we need to look at the overall picture. It really doesn’t matter which custodial parent’s home your children wake up in on December 25. What’s most important is that they are alive, in good health and loved year-round.

So what do I plan to do, all alone, on that calendar day we call “Christmas?” Something I don’t do often enough: RELAX. I’ll sleep in, enjoy a long, uninterrupted cup of tea (what is THAT?) while watching the twinkling lights of my tree and start a new book. I can hardly wait.

About mid-morning, when I know my kids have ripped into all those gifts at their dad’s house, I’ll call to say “Merry Christmas” and let them know a similar scenario awaits their return.

And more than a few times, I will glance through the window, toward my neighbors’ house and try to imagine the joy unfolding as Emilie celebrates her very first Christmas with a family so grateful to have her home.

Christmas is about celebrating the life of children. And thanks to one precious baby, I’ll be singing a different tune this year… “Four calling birds, three French hens, two healthy children and a heart filled with love and gratitude for my bounty year-round.”

Can anyone recommend a good book for Lynn Armitage to read on Christmas morning?

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Jouda Mann said...

What's your preferred genre?

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this. This is my first post-divorce Christmas without my kids (two daughters, ages 2 and 6). They are a few states away, spending Christmas with their dad and stepmom. I miss them like crazy, and was feeling sorry for myself. Your post made me count my blessings. I'm picking the kids up on Monday and we'll have our Christmas together then. I'm so blessed to have two healty and happy kids who I love more than anything. Thanks again.

Lynn said...


You remind me of me so many years ago. When I first divorced, my daughters were 6 and 2, also. That first Christmas without them was hard, but take it from someone who's been there, done that . .. it gets easier. Not because the situation gets any easier, but because you will move on with your life, too. I would venture to say that one year from now, next Christmas, you will have several new friends, you will have picked up some new hobby and quite possibly, you could be in a romantic relationship by then. Your own world will grow -- in a good way -- and while it may be difficult, yet again, to let go of your children for a few days, you won't be lonely. You'll have found a new flock.

So, you got your kids back yesterday. How did your Christmas with them turn out? I'm dying to know!

Lynn said...


As to what genre of reading I prefer . . . I like funny stuff. Fiction or nonfiction, doesn't matter. I've been reading A LOT of nonfiction lately, so I think it's time to lose myself in a good fiction book. Maybe one with some adventure and an entertaining protagonist.

寶貝 said...
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