House Divided: divorced families adjust to holiday season

By Gabby Sahm

Staff Writer

Graphic by Jordan Taylor Bickham
Graphic by Jordan Taylor Bickham

A fire gives off a nice glow to the room as the stockings hang from the fireplace with garland draping off the sides of the mantle. A nice, big Christmas tree stands tall with ornaments covering every branch up until you reach the bottom where presents of all shapes and sizes rest.

This is how most people spend Christmas, but for me this is only how I can imagine it would be like.

My parents divorced in 2005. When they did get divorced it was all very new to me. Being in the third grade, I could not quite fathom why my mom was moving all her stuff out of the house and claiming that things were changing.

As the years went by, I eventually grew into the idea that my parents separated. When your parents get divorced, you always think it is something you did. You think you burdened them to the point where they could not take being in the same room as you, and that somehow leads to them hating each other. In the end, you realize that they just have differences, and are better off apart. Now that my parents have been divorced for so long, the idea of them being together seems absurd. I cannot remember them ever being together, but I do remember how much my life changed after it happened.

I started to have to split my time: spending half my time with my father and the other with my mother. This has been my life for eight years, and the holidays are no exception.

This is how it goes: My 18-year-old brother, Parker, and I head over to my mother’s house in Keller on Dec. 23. We spend the entire day there, then fall asleep acting like that day is Christmas Eve. When we wake up, it is our “Christmas Day” there. Her half of the family comes over, we light the fire, eat good food, open gifts and just reminisce on the simple times. When it is all said and done, Parker and I head back to my father’s house in Coppell.

How we spend Christmas at my father’s is just a tad different. We open one present on Christmas Eve, then head to bed. When we wake up, it is actually Christmas Day. The three of us sit around the tree, I pass out gifts and we all open them. It is very anticlimactic.

After we are finished, and have messed around with our new toys for a bit, we head over to my grandma’s house in Plano, meet up with my aunt and cousin and have the typical Christmas dinner. Presents soon follow, then football is the subject of conversation. When the sun begins to set, we all go our separate ways back home, ending my long holiday journey.

After so many years of the same routine, I have become very immune to the whole idea of having a big, happy family where everything is just gumdrops and rainbows. I am very proud of my parents for everything they have done for my brother and I.

Even though my Christmas does not include both my parents together, and us being one big happy family, I would not change anything. My parents continue to put their differences aside to raise me and my brother, and I could not be more thankful for that.