I’m having great fun these days. I’m reading my friends’ updates on Facebook and they are so filled with stress about last minute shopping sprees, what to get for that difficult-to-buy for loved one, and dealing with crowds and traffic while I sit quite contentedly and totally un-stressed out this holiday season. Why? No, not because I don’t celebrate Christmas, I do. In fact, I’m all about the festivities and would be hosting parties, going to parties and going crazy about the gifting thing. Well, I would have in the past, I should say. Not anymore though.
So what gives? Why am I so chill while the rest of the world goes crazy?
Ahhh, all I can say to this is that every storm cloud has its silver lining. Even the storm cloud of divorce and children sharing holidays in two separate homes. Sigh. Divorce and its reduced financial benefits means less money to spend thus fewer presents to buy. If Christmas is all about the "presents" then that’s a problem, isn’t it? If you don’t have your kids on Christmas and you are all about "The Big Day" then that poses a bit of a problem doesn’t it? The storm cloud of divorce requires that you rethink your personal paradigms about many things. The silver lining is there but it appears in small and unexpected ways sometimes.
Tomorrow will be Christmas Eve. I haven’t even started my Christmas shopping yet. I might do some tomorrow. I might not. It won’t matter, because my "Christmas" is not going to happen on December 25th. It will happen sometime in January, around New Year’s. This year, my children are, once again, spending Christmas at their dads.
I won’t say that this is a good thing about divorce. In fact, my feelings are quite vehement and strong about relationship over dissolution, but life is not perfect. Life is not always white fluffy clouds scudding effortlessly across clear blue skies. Sometimes the thunder bumpers of relational demise develop and there’s no escaping them. You’re going to get soaked and it isn’t going to be fun. Drenched and distraught you end up finding that you are back at ground zero with nearly nothing but loads of debt showing for the last quarter century of your existence. It sucks. But after the storm passes…if you are careful and observant and hopeful enough…you can discover a silver lining on any cloud. You might have to wait and work and watch for a while, but eventually, small though it might be…it will appear.
Christmas, in what I’ve come to call the "off years", is that silver lining for me. The off years are those every other years that I don’t have my children on Christmas Day because they are with their other parent. Those are the Christmases that I don’t stress. I don’t shop. I don’t cook (that’s a big silver lining for all involved) and I don’t have anyone tugging at my bedside begging me to awaken so they can find out what is in the beautifully wrapped packages (yeah, I can’t cook but I can wrap…big deal) under the tree.
Divorce is never easy and the holidays don’t improve this situation any. Even so, I’ve found there is even a silver lining on this thunderhead of dashed familial bonds. It is called, The Day After Christmas. Because of this schedule of mine this year, the stress of having to have everything wrapped and ready and under the tree by December 25th is totally gone. I get to capitalize on sales the day after Christmas instead of hassling it before. I actually have a good three days after Christmas till any of the kids show up. I will have three days after the official day to do what I need to do before the kids come tumbling back in over my threshold. In that time, I will have spent my time doing whatever I wanted to do, something that is usually rare for a single parent. I will have been able to plan and prepare for the second half of the winter break when they will be with me and I will be able to stretch my limited Christmas funds all the more.
So, as I watch my friends update their Facebook status informing me of how they survived the mall (a good 45 minutes just to get out of the parking lot), or how they can’t find the one last minute gift they were looking for or how they have way too much to do in way too little time, I count my blessings. I sit back, pour myself another vodka tonic and think, glad I’m not out there in that ugly traffic right now. Because right now, I am in my own home, with my children before they head off to dad’s enjoying lazy days, watching movies, cleaning house, making cookies and eating the cookie dough before it is even baked. Oh, the fun we are having in spite of the fact that the dates are not working in our favor this year.
It’s a small silver lining….but it is a beautiful one.
Have you been able to discover any silver linings in your divorce clouds?