One of the first things people say to comfort you when your parents get divorced is, “at least you get two Christmases!”
And all I can think when I hear that is, “Forget love and family. Just f*ck all that, as long as you get twice the number of presents, right?”
Of course, I’m being sarcastic. I hate to think we’re all so shallow that we think two Christmases with divorced parents are better than one with a united family. If I were to be completely honest, I’d have to admit that since my parents got divorced I’ve cried on Christmas Day; and I’m talking that not-attractive-at-all, puffy eyed, weird whale noise type of crying.
Part of me hates myself for still being so hung up on my parents’ divorce. I keep telling myself to get a grip; they’re not together anymore nor will they ever be again. And every year I think less and less about it–except during Christmastime.
First of all, Christmas is the pinnacle of family togetherness and love and all that other sentimental sh*t. We live far away from extended family, so it was normally just us back in the good ol’ days. Now there is no “us.” It’s Mom and Dad, separate and distinct. Of course I want to see both of my parents on Christmas, and so I make the effort and divide my time, but it never compares to holidays seasons when we were all together.
Traditions also die. Slowly but surely cutting down our own Christmas tree was no longer a thing. My mom doesn’t put up Christmas lights anymore. Neither of my parents even live in our original home, so the entire scenery is completely different. It sounds dumb to complain about not using old ornaments and not being in the same house, but it really changes things. Now I’ve got two new Christmases, but neither one resembles the cherished one I used to experience.
Emotionally, there are waves of guilt and resentment. Guilt because I feel like such a bad person leaving my mom’s right after opening presents. Like, “thanks for the things, but peace out.” Not to mention there’s now a silent kind of competition for who throws the better Christmas. Who made the better food, got the better gifts or had the better conversation–all of it makes the morning feel so much more superficial, which is the last thing I ever want my Christmases to be.
Resentment kicks in when I begin to cry. I try not to blame my parents for doing what they feel they needed to, but there’s no ignoring the fact that before they got divorced I was happier. Introducing new step-parents, significant others and step-siblings only bolsters this disdain.
Over the years you get used to some people, but only just in time for the other parent to bring a new “member” to the family—except you don’t get a say in who joins the fam. These are such selfish thoughts, but now, when I only see my family during breaks from school, they’re almost stronger than they were before.
You might be thinking “Jesus this girl must hate the holidays,” but it’s really quite the contrary. I am actually one of those crazy, Christmas-obsessed people who starts celebrating November 1 and religiously follows ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas all December. Hell, I wrote one of my college essays on a Christmas, so I’m by no means a Scrooge. I love the Christmas season as a whole, but certain memories and Christmas day itself only remind me of what I’ve lost.