Having joint custody means the vacations don’t appear to be they as soon as did. It means letting go of some traditions: taking turns or buying and selling off; setting priorities and compromising. Above all, it means contemplating what’s finest for the youngsters. What traditions are vital to them?
Final 12 months, Halloween fell on one among my ex-husband’s days with the children. It was the primary 12 months I didn’t take them trick-or-treating, however my little superhero and artist stopped by my home for hugs and images, and naturally they grabbed some sweet from the big plastic pumpkin I fill to the brim every year. They trick-or-treated in my neighborhood as an alternative of close to their dad’s new place as a result of that is the place they’ve all the time trick-or-treated; that is the place their buddies dwell, and the place the neighbors have identified them since they have been infants.
Was it unusual to see them go off with out me? Sure, despite the fact that Halloween has by no means been one among my favourite holidays. My expensive pal Wendy walked over from her home throughout the road, and we briefly handed out sweet collectively on that windy night time. Then I headed to Giuseppe’s, one among my favourite native eating places, to fulfill one other pal for a pleasant dinner. I wasn’t house alone feeling melancholy watching the opposite households all night time; I used to be speaking and laughing over cacio e pepe. I knew sufficient to make my very own plans for the night time.
However this 12 months one thing aside from divorce has thrown a wrench within the works. The pandemic has turned all the things upside-down. It occurred to me lately that in a approach, whereas the novel coronavirus has taken a lot from us this 12 months, it’s additionally maybe taking the sting out of shedding some household traditions due to divorce. In spite of everything, many of those traditions aren’t potential proper now anyway.
Giant household gatherings and shared meals will must be paused, or on the very least, dramatically modified. Regardless of the pandemic, my mother and father, sisters, brothers-in-law, and our youngsters have continued our custom of Sunday dinner at my mother and father’ home, consuming outdoors the place we will socially distance from each other. We’ve begun to speak about what we’ll do as soon as it’s too chilly and moist right here in Ohio for us to collect outdoor. No extra Sunday dinner till spring? And what about Thanksgiving and Christmas? Household meals at my mother and father’ desk are such a big a part of the vacations for me and my youngsters.
Yearly, all of us on my mom’s facet of the household — my mother and father, my sisters and brothers-in-law, my niece and nephews, typically my aunts and uncles and cousins, and once they have been alive, my grandparents — collect round my mother and father’ kitchen desk (or at a card desk in the lounge, or on TV trays within the household room, as a result of the desk is now too small to carry us all). And yearly, my mom cooks all day. Because the token vegetarian within the household, I stuff myself with facet dishes and pie. I look ahead to all of it — the candy potatoes, the cinnamon dinner rolls, the inexperienced bean casserole that jogs my memory of my grandmother, the pumpkin pie — however actually, it’s not in regards to the meals. A very powerful factor is that we’re collectively.
I gained’t have my youngsters on Thanksgiving this 12 months, and I’d usually be steeling myself in opposition to the concept of getting dinner with out them; on the years they’re with their father, their absence is so apparent and painful, the one variable that stands out in opposition to so many constants. However that enormous household gathering gained’t be potential this 12 months. I’m nonetheless undecided how I’ll spend the day, however possibly, simply possibly, doing one thing utterly completely different will assist take the sting out of lacking them.
Due to the pandemic, so many traditions are inconceivable this 12 months, however I’m attempting to look right now as an opportunity to make new traditions. I’m attempting to make use of this time and house to replicate, reprioritize and understand what is absolutely vital. After I cease and take into consideration the time I get — and don’t get — with my youngsters, it’s completely clear: we’re collectively even when we aren’t in shut bodily proximity. Each the divorce and the coronavirus have taken a lot from our lives, however why not take inventory of what we nonetheless have regardless of what we’ve misplaced? Why not rejoice what remains to be potential?
The opposite day, apropos of nothing, my 7-year-old son walked into the lavatory the place I used to be brushing my tooth and stated, “Santa will in all probability put on a masks and gloves this 12 months.” In that temporary second, I considered how a lot I missed having him and his sister on Christmas Eve final 12 months, and about how lonely it was waking up that morning with out them. And I considered how glad I’m that they are going to be with me this 12 months, no matter Christmas throughout a pandemic seems to be like.
Even when we will’t do our typical Christmas Eve dinner with household, we’ll be collectively. We’ll have our typical Christmas morning breakfast — cinnamon kringle — and we’ll take heed to the Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers Christmas album, as we all the time do, and as I did with my very own mother and father once I was a child. And better of all: They are going to be right here this 12 months. Will probably be completely different, however we will probably be collectively. The coronavirus can not take away that.
So I advised my son that sure, Santa would know sufficient to put on a masks and gloves this 12 months. And I advised him that magic means something is feasible.