This past Thanksgiving was the first time that I had to have Thanksgiving dinner in two separate homes. It was odd, to say the least. According to American Psychology Association, about 40-50% of marriages end in divorce. Growing up if you had asked me would I ever think that my family would have entered into that statistic, I honestly wouldn't have been that surprised. Over the last few years, it just started to feel different, and I never wanted to be that statistic but it happened. Kids see everything and being the eldest child in my family I saw a lot.
The holidays, for most people, are an exciting time to spend with family. Yes, of course, fights will happen and drama will occur because that's what happens when families get together. We all know that really weird family member that usually starts it all. For me, the holidays have just become a time where I have to figure out how much time I will get to spend with which parent and if I will get to see my brothers at both places. How do you divide a one day holiday between two parents? A few hours there and a few hours here. It has turned the holidays into a time where I am more stressed out about forgetting the presents or food for the house I need to have it at.
I still am able to go Black Friday shopping which I have been doing since I was 10. That is 10 years of tradition that won't end just because of the separation that has occurred in the family. Christmas in 2015 was already split up, and I got the idea of being with one parent one day and then the other another day. I grew up distanced from my extended family due to location, so I was used to it always being small. People often think "Oh well no you get two Christmas' that's double the presents. Why are you complaining?" That right there is the real problem with the holidays, it is no longer about families and celebration anymore it is about how much stuff you can get. A materialistic world.
People fail to understand that for children of divorce, the holiday season isn't what it once was. It was a time to celebrate and be happy. The traditions are no longer there, and it is difficult to adjust to the new way of doing things. My family had always put up the Christmas tree together on Thanksgiving, and we would decorate the house together. Now I just decorate my apartment and listen to Christmas music. The nice thing is that it takes me a lot less time, but it is different. A new change that has been difficult but I am learning to make new traditions for myself and bringing the joy back to the holidays.
Being a college student, I find is rather difficult to have divorce in my family even more than a child. In fact, choosing between your two parents instead of having them tell you where to go makes it that much harder. You’re the only student that isn’t looking forward to winter break. How do you divide those few weeks? Who do you go see first? Who do you spend Christmas with? Are you going out on New Year’s, or do you need to appease one of your parents and stay in? Will there be any time for friends? So many questions that add stress because they are your parents after all and you don't want to offend anyone.
I have realized that there is no reason to act like everything is OK and putting on a facade would not make the situation any better. Divorce makes the holidays more complicated, but still possible. As the Christmas season vastly approaches, I just hope that we can all focus on the joy and the birth of Jesus Christ instead of the things that now control our culture.