Yule Be All Together

12 Dec

Letterbalm Christmas KidsDear LetterBalm: Four years ago, my wife and I divorced amicably, agreeing to share custody of our three children, all under 12. Our agreement also extends to Christmas Day – each of us has the kids every other Christmas. In conversation, we admitted to each other that when we don’t have the children on Christmas we feel really bad and lonely and the holiday is a bust. So, this year we decided to try and see if all of us can spend the day together. We need to know what to say to the kids so they won’t think we’re back together as a family.

–Father Christmas

This is so nice. Ms. L.B. is getting all egg-noggy and sugar cookie-y. But for the day to go smoothly, you and your ex must make a plan. While you don’t want a cast of thousands and family drama, you need more than the five of you. Share the day with a favorite sibling and his or her family – the aunt, uncle and cousins everybody likes. Or a good friend and his or her friendly brood. If Grandma and Grandpa are angelic folk, include them. If you or your ex are remarried or engaged, your significant other is welcome, of course. Otherwise, no dates. Go easy on the alcohol. Determine arrival and departure times in advance and what gifts go to the kids. Figure out the food. Will there be dinner? A Christmas brunch? A meal at a restaurant? Your goal is a warm, fun-filled day, free from the tension that drove you and your ex apart. When all is settled, you and your ex have a brief talk with the kids thusly:

Kids, this year we have some news. Your mother and I have decided that we’ll all be together on Christmas Day. And, we’ve invited Aunt Cici and Uncle Jake with your cousins to celebrate with us. Grandma and Grandpa will be there, too. It will be a lot of fun, and we’ll have Christmas brunch like we used to. But we want you to understand that this is just for Christmas Day. Your mom and I will continue to have our own places, and you’ll continue to live with each of us just like always.

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