Dysfunctional Family Christmas
Divorce is hard on kids. As it turns out, it’s not all that easy for adults either. One of the toughest things, at least for me, was sharing holidays with my ex, the father of my 3 boys.
It wasn’t so much him seeing them. That I didn’t mind. It was more the hassle of having to make them leave the fun they were having at my house to go to his.
We came to an amicable solution whereby the boys would spend part of the evening with their dad and his partner at the time, we’ll call her Laura, on Christmas Eve. They opened their presents from him there and had a bite to eat. Christmas Day was spent with me as their dad often chose to take up overtime shifts during the season.
It worked well and there were even times when he dropped the boys off that I invited him in for some Christmas cheer.
But as they became teenagers, the boys started resisting the arrangement. Not because they disliked their father, they just wanted to do their own thing. They didn’t care for Laura and didn’t feel welcome in the home their father shared with her. But like a dutiful mother, I encouraged them to continue the Christmas Eve visits. And in that, a new holiday was born — the Dysfunctional Family Christmas.
The Dysfunctional Family Christmas has given us more laughs, more joy, and more WTF moments than it had any right to. We still talk about it to this day even though there hasn’t been one for over a decade.
The inaugural Dysfunctional Family Christmas took place on December 24, 2009. As it turns out, it was also the first Christmas my mother agreed to spend with us. She was nearing 80 and had finally let go of her stubborn insistence on spending the holidays alone.
The evening started out nicely. I made a punch, some hot mulled cider, and various treats to make things special. The boys were 19, 16, and 14. My oldest, being of legal drinking age, wasn’t shy about taking his punch from the adult bowl, right in front of Grandma.
She protested. She didn’t go in for foolishness like the demon drink. But she didn’t say too much. She was having too much fun eating shortbread cookies and butter tarts and basking in the youthful energy of the boys…