Christmas with divorced parents

Taraneh Moeni

Christmas used to be the most wonderful time of the year. It used to be something to look forward to. Now, Christmas time, among many other childhood and preteen wonders, has become a thing of almost resentment. It’s become something I look forward to…ending.

My parents got divorced the spring of my eighth grade year. This was troublesome, because along with the mourning of the separation of my parents, I had to mourn the loss of a whole other life. The life I had lived up until that point was coming to a close. I could not carry on as things were before, so I had only one choice; to start from scratch. I had to build new fond memories, new routines, and new relationships in order to succeed in this new life. However, just as there are triggers that come with any sort of broken relationship, there are triggers when it comes to my family— Christmas being one of those.

It’s hard to help my mom put up the same fake tree we have had for 16 years, when all I can think of is how my dad used to bring it in from the garage and set it up. It is hard to watch my mom decorate the tree, when I know she is keeping the family ornaments we have tucked away. It pains me to see our new house dressed up, like a shell of the old one. It does not get me into the holiday spirit— it only serves to resurface old memories and rituals I try so hard to forget.

The first Christmas is always the worst, especially when we were in the same house. It was not until we moved that things started to feel a little different. Better. But it never feels the same. We all had to figure out how to, I guess, do Christmas again. I am always a little bit sadder around the holidays. It is hard not to remember or think of what you thought was normal for your whole life— memories plague me annually, and I cannot do anything about it. My friends tend to complain and rant about their families; talking about a nagging mother, annoying siblings, and cringe-worthy relatives. I cannot help but shudder— I would give anything to see both of my parents on Christmas. I cannot exactly say that, though. I do not want them to feel guilty, because it is no one’s fault, but I cannot stop what I feel. This happens a lot, not just with Christmas. I used to love my birthday, and would scowl in disbelief at people who said they hated theirs. Now, I get it.

My situation is different from my close friends. My dad lives 40 minutes away from me, and it is always a challenge to make time during the week. I do Christmas Eve with my mom and Christmas Day with him. It is just him, my brother, and I on Christmas. I would be lying if I said I did not miss our family Christmases. I would be lying if I said I did not miss my old house. And I would be lying If I claimed not to miss my old life. Each time Christmas rolls around, it reminds me that I am getting older. The memories of my family limit me— they hold me back. I don’t want to grow up, and I don’t like celebrating Christmas anymore.