Children of divorce have a different Christmas than other families

By Kaitlyn D'Ambrosio
December 17, 2017

My brothers and I opening presents on Christmas. Photo submitted by Kaitlyn D’Ambrosio.

During the holiday season, families and friends come together, exchange gifts and take part in the holiday spirit; however, this is easier said than done. For people with divorced parents, the holidays are spent a little differently.

According to the American Psychology Association, 40 to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce. As a result, some children become torn between two families and two separate holiday celebrations.

For my brothers and me, Christmas consists of running around to numerous places. It took a few years to perfect our Christmas schedule and to figure out where we are going and what time we are opening presents with each parent and grandparent. Trying to fit in the holidays around my father’s work schedule was our greatest challenge.

I did not realize how crazy the holidays were for us until my brother’s fiance joined us on our adventures Christmas Day. She was exhausted from all the running around that day. After doing Christmas the way I have for over 10 years, I got used to the way we did things. I did not realize it was not common for other families.

The first Christmas after my dad got his own place was the worst. We woke up at my mom’s house. Then, after opening gifts, we got ready and she drove us to my dad’s apartment. I saw my dad for a mere half hour that afternoon and opened our presents while my mom stood there, waiting impatiently, because we were going to be late to go to my grandparents house.

After that year, my brother decided that after we ate at my grandparents house, we were going to sleep at my dad’s house on Christmas Eve. Then we would wake up open presents with my dad after that we would get ready and open presents at my moms. We spent the rest of Christmas Day at my grandparents house with my aunts, uncles and cousins.

According to Pew Research, 15 percent of children had two parents in remarriage in 2014.

As the years went on, Christmas did not feel broken anymore and neither did my family. My parents got remarried to other people and it began to feel like I had two families rather than pieces of one.

My mom and dad both remarried their significant others recently. Before my mom got married, my now stepdad still spent Christmas with us and my mom’s family. My stepmom and stepbrothers moved in a few years before they got married. When they began living with us we always opened Christmas presents together and spent the holidays together.

One of my favorite Christmas memories is the Christmas after my stepmom and step brothers moved in. We spent Christmas Eve and woke up at my dad’s house together, opened presents and had a great time together. Being with my family puts the magic back into the holiday.

I think some people do not understand what kids of divorced parents go through on a regular basis, let alone during the holidays. Christmas and other holidays can be hard for divided families because other people get that typical Hollywood movie Christmas and we do not.

Despite the hectic feeling on Christmas, I never complained. On Christmas Day, I always woke up to presents under my tree, no matter how many there may be or whose house I woke up at that year.

Kaitlyn D'Ambrosio

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