As the holiday season approaches, we at the Centre for Mediation know it can be a particularly stressful time for families going through separation or a recent divorce. Just as families have tried and true recipes for favorite holiday dishes, we at CMDR have identified three key ingredients for separating or divorced parents to smoothly celebrate the holiday season with their children.
Planning: Holidays and special events play a key role in the lives of children so it is important for parents to work together to plan for how they will share or divide holidays and special events during separation and after divorce.
Creativity: There is no right or wrong answer for how to celebrate the holidays when separating or after divorce. We encourage parents to be creative and develop a plan that focuses on their children’s needs, while remembering that parental needs and feelings also require consideration.
Flexibility: There is no one right answer or division of events that is superior to another. The important point is to be open and flexible enough to agree to changes if future developments render the plan uncomfortable, or even unworkable.
Let us consider some of the many variations families may utilize when celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas and Chanukah.
Here we have a one-day holiday, which is part of a four and a half day school break, beginning Wednesday at 12:00 or thereabouts and ending Sunday night (through grade 12 in Massachusetts public schools and different in some private schools)
The most common practice is to alternate annually the day or the 4.5-day school break. Yet other parents consider some of the following options:
Christmas and Chanukah
For those who celebrate Chanukah, sharing the time for celebration is generally not as problematic because of the length of the holiday.
There is perhaps no other Christian holiday that has more ceremony, family, and emotional association for children than does Christmas. Divorcing individuals will often describe in great detail the traditions associated with the preparation and celebration of this holiday, from tree decorating, caroling, and Santa Claus, to Christmas Eve rituals, church attendance, and numerous extended family reunions. Here are some options to consider:
Holidays are special times in every family’s life. We encourage parents to have a creative plan, but remain open to changing it, and cherish the holidays.
Updated November, 2022