Splitting Christmas

Dividing holiday time is my norm

danp

Everyone has heard the old adage that divorced parents mean twice as many presents come Christmas time. It’s a funny way to try and make what could be a tough situation more lighthearted.

But for me, having divorced parents has been my reality for almost my entire life and I don’t find it to be a tough situation.

My parents split when I was about six years old. So for me, splitting Christmas between two families is the norm. I would say it was tough at first, but I don’t even remember what it was like. I don’t remember a holiday where my parents were together. I’ve seen it in pictures, but all of my holiday memories involve being with either my mom or my dad.

I have friends whose parents have split more recently and their holidays are strange to them now.

When I think of holidays, I don’t feel left out because I don’t see my parents together for parties. If anything, I feel lucky because I get to do two different holiday parties and see more family members. Obviously that has its downside as a college student who doesn’t feel like explaining the constant existential crisis that is being at a university twice, but I still appreciate it.

I think of how I spend Christmas Eve, eating dinner with my dad and that side of the family. I think of my loud uncle who weighs more than me, breaking my chops about my weight every year and debating whether UB or St. Bonaventure is the top athletic university in Western New York. I think of taking shots with my step-siblings and playing stupid games like Guesstures.

Then I remember going home after dinner to my mom’s. My mom, my sister and I –– and now my brother-in-law and their soon to be born baby –– gather around the tree and open pajamas to wear for the night while we watch “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” It makes me remember all of the Christmas mornings waking up and playing charades to be able to open a gift.

I think of my aunt, uncle and cousin coming over on Christmas day and all of us enjoying dinner together. Or when my biker uncle comes in yelling or brings one of his buddies with great names like “Crazy” and “Psycho” and they live up to those names.

I think of the time my cousin and I get away from the rest of the family and play video games.

Don’t get me wrong, it has its downside.

No one likes having to leave one parent behind in order to go see the other. It sometimes can feel like you’re abandoning the one whose house you’re leaving. But that also makes you value the time with them and be in that moment rather than distracted with phones or other things. You grow to love and appreciate the nonsensical.

It’s easy to think that not spending holidays as a “normal” family is a sad thing, but for the people living it, that’s just not the case. To be quite frank, I have no desire for that. As a questionable comedian once said, “No happy marriage has ever ended in divorce.” My family exists the way it does and I’m fine with that.

I love my weird family and everything about it. My holiday isn’t “normal,” but I wouldn’t change a thing.