It is tough to be a single parent, really tough. I was a single Mom for 4 years and not only was it a lot of work without enough money, but I felt so vilified by society. Today, my life is much easier but in 1996, I was just about to experience the holidays for the first time after my divorce. We've all had less than perfect holidays, this was an interesting one of mine, a Single Mom's Christmas.
I had the fastest divorce of anyone I know, from let's get divorced in June, filed in August and final the first of October. I sold the house ten days later and moved to my new condo on December 20. Yep, 5 days before Christmas. I had a second grader who still believed and a wise beyond her years sophomore in the house.
I knew the timing would be tight and the bucks, even tighter. I bought what gifts I could and hid them in a friend's basement in my new town.
The night before we moved, my friends helped me set up the kitchen. The next day everyone I knew helped me empty a house and fill a brand new condo. They even put up curtain rods. We spent that first night in beds that were all set up after a flurry of activity which covered up the maelstrom of emotions that were still swirling around us.
I woke up on the 21st to find my youngest concerned that a. We didn't have a tree up and b. How would Santa know where to find us. The tree being more concrete I struck a deal that I would assemble the tree, the ornaments were up to her. We both completed our parts of the bargain and her placement of ornaments all over the tree shocked me.
"How did you get them up on the top?" I asked in disbelief.
"I threw them." she answered. Hey, worked for me!
I even was enthused enough to put out the Christmas quilts. Now it actually seemed like we had a bit of Christmas going on.
I had sent out my Christmas cards earlier, such as they were. I scanned both girls' school pictures plus one of the condo building and put a message with our new address with my new name. Nothing says the holidays like a holiday newsletter run off on the sly on the school's Xerox machine.
As tight as money was, it was also such a relief in a way to be divorced. Holiday work had always been done by me, now there was no hiding it. I also didn't have to worry about over imbibing to celebrate. Ever heard John Denver's song, Please Daddy Don't get Drunk this Christmas? It was pretty much my theme song.
Still it was an emotional moment when my ex picked the girls up for Christmas Eve with him. I was glad I had work to do, including picking up the presents at my friend's house. I was held together by my friends for so many years and this was one of them. I even had gotten a bit of extra cash and stopped on the way home for a few extra stocking stuffers.
My alone time was shorter than I had anticipated, my ex had gotten drunk and my oldest had announced time to go home and she drove, having already passed driver's ed. Now there's a Christmas Eve to remember and also the last time she agreed to go on a visitation with him.
The next day my family came for Christmas day. My dad and brother in law put things up in the bathroom and closets for me, my sister reorganized my silverware drawer. We had lasagna and laughed and had fun. Fun without any tension or fighting or hoping your spouse passes out. Just nice fun.
The girls and I even took some pictures. Our first Christmas as a new family of three.
I know some of you will have a tough Christmas this year. I wish you all the peace we found that night. I know it may be hard, but you will make it. I did it and you can too.
Now that's something to celebrate.
I hope your holidays are sew happy!
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