It’s that time of year again; Christmas.
I adore it.
Except for one thing- the fact that this annual celebration is a reminder of why I hate having divorced parents.
The above isn’t entirely true- I don’t hate having divorced parents. I would rather that they were together, blissfully married and ageing gracefully with one another. But that was and is not to be. The thought of them together- fighting and hating one another is horrible so, comparatively speaking- the divorce was a blessing.
That is, until Christmas.
This is the time of year when all that I hate about their divorce is encapsulated by 24 hours.
It begins with the question that I dread as mid November draws closer: “who do you want to spend Christmas with?” In truth, I don’t care. It is one day and I know that I will have two Christmas celebrations either which way. For my parents however I know that it is a big deal.
“Neither of us will be hurt” my mother assures my sister and I as she plasters on this faux liberal pro choice facade. But I know that it is a lie. I know that if I outright choose dad that she will (no matter how well she conceals it) be hurt.
“I don’t mind” I reply- I always reply. She always responds that I must have a preference and then she affirms her previous statement that no parent will be offended and waits for my reply.
I am indecisive about whether to get orange juice with or without bits, I never know whether I want to straighten or curl my hair and I spend agonising moments deciding on peas versus sweetcorn with dinner. Thus, in the scale of things this is a big decision for me and when I say I don’t mind- I really don’t.
She never believes me. Not when I was thirteen nor when I am twenty one. I have always been accused of “sitting on the fence” when in actual fact I have never cared who I spend those seemingly crucial 1440 minutes with on December 25th.
It’s times like this that I wish I had a regular plan of alternating years or a court order to enforce this decision- but I do not. And so we have to play out this farce each and every year.
The second reason that Christmas reminds me of why I hate having divorced parents is because I have to tactically split my wish list into two so as to avoid the horrendous Christmas of 2007. That infamous year I gave my parents my christmas list and assumed- oh how I was naive- that they would work together and cooperate in planning who would buy what. Did they? Hell no. Instead half of my gifts were duplicated and as much as I loved Pink’s new CD, the blue dress I had specifically chosen and my new eyeshadow set- I did not want them x2. This faux pas would have never been known were it not for the interference of my little sister.
“Mum bought you that…and that…and didn’t she buy you that too?” She queried. She found it hilarious. My dad did not.
And so now I have to assign the girly, pretty things to my mum and the easy to access- cant go wrong with- CDs and DVDs for my dad.
I then hate the day itself.
The endless food that was always going to be far too much for three but acts as a sad reminder of the times when my mum would cook for a full house. You always anticipate a couple of days of turkey sandwiches and left overs. A fortnights worth? Not so much.
Then there is the guilt. My parents adore us. They feel that Christmas is a time for family- yet one of them will not be with us.
They both wait on mine and my sister’s word and would drop everything to provide us with a family Christmas. Therefore when it is not them with whom this day is spent the guilt that I feel is immense.
My dad might be spending it with a friend and my mum at work. But that isn’t right. If they had both moved on with new partners and new family units my conscience would be clean. As, however, they have not- my Christmas is plagued by the knowledge that one of them feels empty on this day.
So when term ends for university and when I am asked what I am doing for Christmas- I tell them I am going home. When really I am not.
There is so much joy at Christmas, so much to be thankful for. I love it and never lose sight of that. The family and friends that make Christmas amazing are, if absent, the reason that for many this time of year is painful. It is bittersweet.
I love both my parents dearly and as “home is where the heart is”- my Christmas, although wonderful, shall always be incomplete.