Splitsville: Celebrating Holidays On Your Custody Day

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Welcome to Splitsville. This weekly column will focus on parenting after a divorce, break-up or one-night stand that didn’t end like a Katherine Heigl movie.

Thanksgiving is on a Thursday. It’s the fourth Thursday in November. It’s a day that we show our gratitude for all the blessings that have been bestowed upon us. It’s a day to remember the pilgrims and Native Americans coming together to support each other before the long, harsh winter. (I’m pretty sure that they still teach that in social studies, so let’s go with it for the kid’s sake.) It’s a day where the whole country eats turkey or maybe a little tofurky. If Thanksgiving is such a special Thursday, then someone please help me explain to my daughter why we’re celebrating it on a Saturday.

Even worse, how do I convince my three year old that Santa knows all about our hectic schedule and has no problem dropping by our house a week early. With all that preparation going on, the elves working their little buns off, the North Pole takes a break to come drop down our chimney, because we have our holiday a week ahead.

Sharing custody means sharing the holidays. And no matter how nice it would be, both parents can’t have Christmas morning. There’s no re-do on the Macy’s Day Parade. Timing-wise, parents have to find a way to make their holiday, even if Thanksgiving has to come on a Sunday.

So how do we keep the magic of our favorite holidays even when we’re a little off-schedule?

  • Confront the problem head on. Kids pick up on things. They are going to realize that the rest of the world isn’t celebrating the same day that you guys are. So plan out your story, maybe even practice it a few times to iron out the wrinkles. Whether you pretend to have a direct line to Santa, (I mean every parent should be able to call Claus), or you emphasize that we need to be thankful all year long, just have a way to explain the situation.
  • Sell the positives. I mean, no kid is going to be upset about two days to eat tons of food with their family or double the presents. Really, duplicate holidays are pretty fun. So stress to your kids just how fun it is to have their own special second holiday.
  • Create your own traditions. The best part about holidays is the special family activities. Just because your special days happens a week early doesn’t mean that you need to skip all the details. Trim your tree, build a gingerbread house, just don’t let a different date end all the traditions that make holidays so special.
  • Don’t try to compete. With duplicate holiday, parents often try to one-up each other. They want to give the best gifts or have the most fun. But the holidays aren’t a competition and you’re child doesn’t want to be caught in the middle of a  grudge match. Just have a wonderful time and your child will too.