The alternate title to this post was, "The Christmas season - It's not always eggnog and carols." I'd like to talk a bit about how the Christmas season affects single dads who won't get to spend Christmas with their children. For many folks with families, this season is an extremely joyous time of year. However, for single fathers, this season can be a sharply painful time emotionally. It seems that the Christmas season tends to magnify whatever is going on in your life. If things are going great, then the joy just seems that much more palpable and in abundance. However, if you are struggling already, that too tends to be magnified, and this time of year can be very depressing.
For many single fathers, this Christmas will be the first Christmas that their family is broken up and not all together for the holiday. Many dads will miss out on seeing their children open presents on Christmas morning, and that can be very, very hard. Some dads will be having a Christmas meal alone for the first time. Some will be spending the entire day alone for the first time. Some, such as myself will be fortunate and blessed to be able to spend some, or all of the day with our children. When it comes to the holidays, it can be an emotional roller coaster for single fathers.
However, there are some things you can do as a single dad that will help make being alone on the holidays a little easier. Please don't misunderstand me - I'm certainly not saying that I'm about to offer you a few easy steps that will make all the pain go away. I wish that were true - it would have saved me much heartache over many lonely Christmases. But I do believe there are steps that you can take that will take the edge off of the pain, and make it a bit more bearable.
First, make plans ahead of time. Regardless of what they are, MAKE PLANS. Whatever you do, don't let Christmas Day sneak up on you, and suddenly you have an empty day to spend with an empty heart. Whether it's spending time with your parents and/or siblings, friends, or folks from your church, make sure you have SOMETHING to look forward to on Christmas Day. Talk to you children's mother ahead of time, and try to arrange to be able to call and talk to your little elves on Christmas day. If you are NICE, and sincere, chances are she'll let you. And trust me, that may not make it all better, but it sure does help to hear their voices that day.
Second, in the days ahead, try to stay busy. This will help keep your mind on other things than the fact that your kiddos won't be around that day. Get a part time job, a hobby, start working out in the evenings, become a Salvation Army bell ringer, find things to do other than sit around your house or apartment and get depressed.
When Christmas Day does come around, one thing that REALLY helps is if you can find somewhere or some way to serve others. This is HUGE, and helps tremendously. One great way is to help serve the Christmas meal at a local homeless shelter. Other possibilities include local boys/girls homes, orphanages, or nursing homes. Believe it or not, when we serve others who have very little or nothing, we are prone to forget about our problems for a while, or at the least, feel much less sorry for ourselves. I PROMISE you, it will do your soul MUCH good and help bring about healing in your heart.
Lastly, but most importantly, between now and Christmas Day, spend time thinking about the real reason for this season, the birth of Christ. How amazing it is that the Creator of this universe sacrificed His only beloved son to be born into this crazy, messed up world to save us from ourselves. Spend some time with your heavenly Father. Ask Him for comfort, for healing, for His peace that surpasses our human understanding. Ask Him to take you by the hand, and to walk with you through this season and this day. I promise He will, and you WILL make it through this season and this day.
So, let's hear from some of you. Any of you single/divorced dads been through Christmas Day alone? What was it like for you? Any of you have suggestions on how other dads can get through the day a little easier without their kiddos there?