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The Single Mom and Christmas

The Single Mom and Christmas

It’s that time of year…parties, gatherings, dinners, Christmas concerts, school performances. So many exciting events! Except for the fact that I’m going to every one of them alone; without a husband, without a date, without a partner. At some point in the season this fact inevitably hits me. This year, it knocked the wind out of me.

I was standing on my front porch on Halloween night. My three children and I were just about to head out trick-or-treating and a family walked up…a mom, a dad and their two year old…they walked toward our porch as they said “trick or treat.”

My eyes immediately filled with tears and I was gripped with the realization that this is my reality; in my life there is a void. This is my eighth holiday season as a single mom…I should not have this pain, this longing, this feeling of emptiness. Even though the feeling is fleeting and doesn’t last, it’s there.

I am fortunate that my children and I have every Christmas together. But, they alternate Thanksgiving and New Year’s between their dad and me. I have an enormous circle of friends. There is no lack of love or friendship in my life that always open their homes as well as their hearts. Last Thanksgiving my children were with their dad and I turned down eight invitations to dinner. Not because my plate was too full, but I just could not do it. I could not be the only single mom without her children.

I dreaded being surrounded by seemingly happy couples, or other single moms, while I sat there alone, without a buddy, without a partner, without a spouse, without even my kids. I chose instead to sit home alone all day with my two favorite men, Ben and Jerry (phish food, my favorite flavor of ice cream).

I spoke with my kids on the phone at 7 that evening where they shared that they’d had a great day. That made me happy, it really did. But as soon as I hung up the phone, I resumed my pity party. Finally at 8:30 I gave up and went to bed. The goal is to make it through the day and I did! Because when this day is done and the sun rises on the next, I get to enter my happy place…I get to hang my Christmas lights.

Now, you’d think that all the ads with couples cozy on the sofa exchanging gifts would feed my emptiness and make me feel more alone. But they don’t. Christmas lights make me happy. Christmas lights shine bright and make the world prettier, happier and filled with promise. Once Christmas comes, I get to enjoy my children and my mom, and that emptiness is gone. Christmas is my favorite holiday and my favorite day of the entire year.

There are some Christmas traditions that this single mom family has embraced. When we get home from the Christmas Eve service at church, Santa has dropped off pajamas on each child’s bed. He later returns and leaves them more toys and gifts than they need. Our living space is not very large, so on Christmas morning we are overflowing with gifts, most from Santa, some from parents, my friends, family and me. Not even sure how it happened but it’s our tradition to stay in our pajamas all day long on Christmas. Even when family friends visit on Christmas Day, they come in their pajamas.

But we stay home. We get to stay in our family sanctuary. Last year I asked my kids what they liked about Christmas and each one of them said that their favorite part was that we get to stay home and be together all day in our pajamas.

Christmas lights shine bright and make the world prettier, happier and filled with promise.

I cook a big homemade breakfast and a hearty home-cooked dinner. But there is no stress to the day, no commitments, no responsibilities, other than to cherish the gift of each other, and in this simple act honor and cherish the birth of the Christ child. And while I feel the void of a partner on other holidays, on Christmas, I am selfishly happy that I get to enjoy the company of my children all by myself and the moment is just ours to cherish.

When the Christmas lights are taken down, all the wrapping paper thrown out and the gifts put away, I’m not left with a feeling of emptiness. While I’m single, I’m never really alone, I’m surrounded by the ones I love who love me back. I may not have every holiday with my children but those I have, I make special. Every single mom has the opportunity to create treasured memories of the times that are hers. The memories I am  creating with my children are mine and will be treasured throughout my days.

I’m reminded that as I travel this leg of my journey without a spouse, without a partner, that I am completely fulfilled. Even in the moments that the pangs of loneliness can seem debilitating, I am whole. I carry the joy of Christmas with me all year…. I hope to remember this next year when the party invitations start to arrive!

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Christi still dreams of running away to join the circus. She wants to be the girl on the flying trapeze ... doesn’t every single mother of three?

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