Holidays with two households can be a struggle. Illustration by Veronica Lezzi on Blush.
By Brenda Verano, News Editor, and Jasmine Nguyen, Editor-in-Chief
Hearing the phrase “At least you’ll get two Christmases,” is something as a child of divorced parents you hear a lot.
Most people say it as a way to make you feel less awkward about the spilt, and more excited about the split holidays and birthdays, but the phrase itself still stings.
Not everything about our holidays is jolly and amazing, we are two of the approximately 50% of daughters/sons of divorced parents whose holidays are just a little different from the rest.
Divorced parents does not only mean a split of your family, it means a split holiday season.
During the holidays, there are many others like us who spend their time shuffling from home to home, from one party to another, and probably spending more time traveling than actually participating in actual holiday cheer.
It is common for us to have two dinners, two rounds of “Merry Christmas!” and “Happy New Years!, two of everything.
Well at least for us. Yes, we do get double the presents but it’s a bit more complex than that.
As two staff writers for the Bulletin, we know we are not alone in this holiday bifurcation, so of course we’re going to write about it.
We often find ourselves trying our absolute best to make these two realities feel like one, for the sake of my own and our families holiday cheer.
Throughout my childhood, my parents did a pretty good job of separating the time my sister and I spent with each side of their respective families.
But it didn’t matter how fairly my parents separated our time amongst each side of the family, there was always a sense of guilt in the pit of my stomach when I left one parent to spend time with the other.
And as I grew older that guilt became greater as my mother moved across the country five years ago, and I spent most of the holidays with her, yes I live with my dad most of the year, but it hurt to think about how I didn’t get to do Christmas traditions with him either.
Like most things you experience as a child of divorce, during the holidays you feel stuck in the middle of your two parents, yet during the holidays I feel stretched too thin, always struggling to show I care to both sides of the family.
Running back and forth isn’t something I regret though.
My parents divorced when I was seven, so the ghost of divorced parents is now my friend and something I’m not ashamed of.
As the only child of two strangers who were, at some point, allegedly in love and then decided that they weren’t anymore—my guilt bag is full. No time is ever enough time to spend with both parents in separate times.
My father, who never remarried, often waits for me to eat dinner and call my family back in Mexico.
My mother, who is now happily remarried, wishes I didn’t have to leave our house and stay with the family.
Me? I just want both of them to be happy and feel loved.
I’ve become proficient at time management. Always calculating the exact amount of time I need to spend at my mom’s family party, to then rush to my dad’s, even if that means leaving in the middle of finishing my tamales and getting presents four hours prior to everyone else.
Making sure there are enough pictures with both sides of my family for their Facebook posts.
This year, it’s different though, due to COVID-19 there will be no running back and forth, at least for us.
And for the first time in a very long time we will both be staying in one place for the holidays, no rushing to different parties, no to-go bags.
And although we are aware of the divorce-parent holiday stress that creeps in every year from November to New Years, it’s odd to finally go back to having only one Christmas.
Because although they’re “split holidays” they’re also perfectly imperfect.