Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Single mom of an only child Christmas traditions

Mom2Mom Ed Blog: Single mom & only child holiday traditions
Being a single mom is both the most wonderful and the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life. 

I love the freedom of not having to run my thoughts and ideas by anyone else and of being in charge of every decision on my own. I love how close my son and I are. I love how easy it is to basically just do whatever we want without worrying too much about too many other people.

I don't love not having anyone to lean on when times are tough or when I need a counterbalance in my parenting. I don't love having to make every HARD decision on my own. I don't love not having all the same family traditions I grew up with around the holidays.

As a single mom to an only child, I've found that our holiday traditions have changed a lot over the years, but over the last few years, we've found an easy holiday rhythm to our lives--however, this year will be a lot different...more on that later...

Santa still visits
First and foremost, my son has always gotten a stocking full of goodies from Santa--we have an "if you say you believe, then Santa will come! The second you say you don't believe, Santa stops!" agreement. My son was allowed to tell me ONCE and ONLY ONCE his true thoughts on Santa if he wanted the stocking tradition to continue. So far, at 18, he has stuck by that and still gets a stocking every single year!

I love helping out Santa!

However, WHEN my son gets his stocking and HOW he gets it have changed dramatically since he was a young tyke! For the past six years, we have not had a fireplace and we also have both given in to our night owl tendencies (McKenzie's kids are committed early worms!).

So, over the last few years, instead of getting his stocking, stuffed full of goodies, from the fireplace mantel on Christmas morning, as was the tradition when I was a child, my son has to search the house for his treats! 

Santa, ahem, leaves the stocking and treats all in one place, but hidden away. 

And, they can only be found AFTER midnight so that it is already Christmas!

A Charlie Brown Christmas
After the stocking has been found, we gather 'round the laptop to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas--it's a classic that I grew up with and now my son has grown up with it too! When my son was younger, we watched this classic ever year, but not on a particular timetable. For the past six years, A Charlie Brown Christmas has been a firm date at about 1230am on Christmas morning!

JP gathers his stocking and treats from Santa, I make hot chocolate, and we eat candy and watch the video while cuddled up together and with our dogs, all under a pile of blankets on the floor.

One Christmas gift at midnight
My son also gets to open one Christmas present of MY choosing between finding his stocking from Santa and watching A Charlie Brown Christmas. This really came about because he would beg and beg and beg to open his presents early! I finally caved and let him open ONE and ONLY ONE early, but only if I chose it. 

Holding off on the "big" present
I have always gotten my son one large present (whether in size or price or level of want) and several smaller items. I purposely get to chose the present that is opened early because I don't want him to find the one big one and then be let down by all of the others. 

In fact, I usually hide the "big" present and he gets to open it LAST, after we've had Christmas day brunch.

By holding out on the "big" present, my son is allowed to enjoy his other gifts and Santa treats and to appreciate them and our time spent together before he gets the awe-inspiring gift. Last year the big gift was a Wacom Bamboo digital tablet. A few years earlier it was a HUGE Nerf dart gun that he'd been begging for over the prior two years!

Christmas day brunch and lounging
We don't get up early ever if we can avoid it, and Christmas day is no exception. After watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, we both eventually drift off to our beds and fall asleep, waking in the morning at whatever time we happen to rise. But, even last year, my son was still up early and ready to open presents! 

Eventually, we both get up and open most of our presents and I put together a big brunch of bacon, ham, eggs, and FTWP (french-toast-waffled-pancakes...I'll explain in a future post!). I rarely ever make bacon, and FTWP is a multi-step, messy process reserved for special occasions, so this is definitely a brunch that is more in the traditional holiday meal category rather than an every day or even every weekend meal.

The rest of the day, we basically lounge around, enjoying our new goodies (I usually have a few new books and some new pajamas or a new throw blanket) and we relax and play board games too. 

Our single mom to an only child Christmas traditions have resulted in some of my absolute favorite memories over the past six years and it will be hard to do something dramatically different this year--hard for both of us.

This year, we are both going on big adventures, but not together. To be totally honest, I'm a little heartbroken to be apart over Christmas, but unless I find $6,000 (or more) out of the blue in the next two days and with no strings attached, that's how it will be. 

This year, my son will be going to New York City to visit some of our very best friends while I travel with my uncle to Argentina to deal with some business relating to my uncle's estate (my uncle was diagnosed with brain cancer just 3 months ago and is putting his affairs in order, including real estate overseas). Because my uncle doesn't celebrate Christmas and isn't a parent, I don't think he realized what a big deal it was that he booked our trip over the Christmas holiday. Since I can't afford to buy my son a ticket to Argentina, even with the generosity of others, we are taking separate trips and will have to figure out some new traditions for this year. Any suggestions?

Are you a single parent? If so, what holiday traditions do you follow with your kids? Have those traditions evolved over time?
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