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What is your arrangement for this Christmas?

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 

We have a week during the holidays and bio mom has a week

post #2 of 36

XH doesn't have access, but his parents see the kids once a month for 6 hours. I told them the kids are not available during the last week of November or the first two weeks of December because we expect the baby to come somewhere in that time frame (if I were to go into labour during their visit, they'd refuse to bring the kids back early, so I'm avoiding the situation entirely) They'll probably ask for the kids on the Sunday after Christmas, which is fine by me. Sometimes they ask for a second visit in December, I tell them they can take the kids for a few hours on a weeknight and then I don't hear back from them.

post #3 of 36

Last year: BioMom had DSS Christmas Eve and Christmas AM, the switch was made around 3pm on Christmas day.

 

This year: We will have DSS Christmas Eve and Christmas AM, the switch to BioMom will be made in the early afternoon.

 

DSS is 6yo and I think Christmas Day is too busy for him, but it's not my call.  I'd rather the switch be made on Boxing Day or Christmas Eve, but I also think that Christmas Day is an over-rated ordeal...

post #4 of 36

We have always been firm believers that the kids deserve to experience the entire holiday and all its traditions, which includes the time leading up to the holiday, the day of, and the aftermath. So we have always done long holidays during Thanksgiving and Christmas, whether we lived an hour and a half apart, 5 minutes apart, or 3000 miles apart. Each holiday gets 5 or more days of uninterrupted holiday time and we avoid any schedule that requires a custody switch the day before or after the holiday itself, even if it means missing some school or moving around the schedule. It has been wonderful to get to celebrate the entire holiday as a family, even when that means we have to celebrate early, late, or twice the following year so mom can have the same experience. 

 

When we moved away my husband was granted parenting time for ALL of Christmas vacation EVERY year. We feel so strongly about my step-daughter's right to get to have that uninterrupted holiday time that he voluntarily gives up part of the break every other year so she can spend it with mom. So on alternate years she is with us for her whole break and on the other years she is with us for about half of it, the schedule determined by where Christmas falls so she gets that uninterrupted holiday time.

 

This year is her year to be with us for the whole break, so she will be with us from the Thursday before Christmas 'til she goes back to school a little more than 2 weeks later.

post #5 of 36

My older (bio) kids:

1. Spend all day Christmas Eve with their Dad.  His extended family's big shindig is that evening.

2. Go to Midnight Mass with me.

3. Spend Christmas morning at my house.  DH's and my extended families start arriving around 6am and the kids' Dad, step-Mom, brother(s) (by Dad & step-Mom) and assorted people Dad & step-Mom bring along: both their mothers, his sister, old friends and an exchange student!  (All those people have never come in the same year.  It's always a surprise!)

4. Go to their Dad's mid-day, to celebrate with their step-Mom's family.

5. Come home Christmas evening, for dinner with DH's and my families, who spend all day at our house.

That's our routine, every year.

 

My DSS...:  dizzy.gif

> Lives with us and is supposed to spend one week (about half) of winter break with his Mom, out of state.  She's supposed to pay for his airfare.  For better or worse, that's where the legal-ese ends.

 

> Mom is Jewish.  Overall, the last 8 years, she's been cooperative (for her) about DSS spending every Christmas with DH.

 

> ...Except the year we got married (4 years ago, when DSS still lived with his Mom):

*** She said DH could have DSS that Christmas (for the 4th consecutive year), but he had to choose:  Have DSS at our wedding, or see him over winter break.  Not both!  

*** In the subsequent court filings, she didn't say she wanted to celebrate Christmas with DSS, just that if DH got "extra" time with DSS for the wedding, it was only fair that he lose parenting time at winter break.

*** After the judge said DH could have both visits, DSS's Mom suddenly declared that she celebrates Christmas; it's been heartbreaking for her to suffer so many years without having DSS on that day; so if the judge refused to cancel DH's winter break parenting time, at least don't give DH Christmas Day!

*** The judge (who was also in the middle of changing custody and moving DSS 2,500 miles away from his Mom) caved and said she could have him on the 25th.  But DSS and his Mom had celebrated Chanukah together before the trial and didn't do anything for Christmas.  DSS was really upset about it.

 

> So now, each year, Mom reminds DH that she once got a judge to give her Christmas parenting time...but she'd trade it... Perhaps DH would pay for DSS's winter break airfare, for example?  DH jumps through whatever hoop she holds out.  We send DSS to see her the day after Christmas.  DH doesn't make him come back until the day before school resumes, so the visit is always longer than the required 7 days.  After all, frustrating as she is, she's DSS's mother and he doesn't get to see much of her! 

 

> This year, she had free plane tickets and went ahead and scheduled DSS's trip...starting Dec. 24th.  

*** Lately (as she gears up for trying to reverse the custody change), she makes out-of-character overtures to show how super-cooperative she has become.  She noted that she gave DH Christmas Day this year, without him even requesting it!  

*** DH pointed out that Christmas is Dec. 25th.  She felt it was no big deal - everyone forgets the date of Christmas now and then, right?  Unfortunately, between the dates of winter break and black-out dates, she can't reschedule DSS's travel and still use her free tickets.

*** DH has resolved this exact situation with her before, by paying for DSS's airfare himself.  (The free tickets get returned to Mom's account and she can use them for something else.)  But DH told her we can't afford to do that, this year.  

*** Then Mom became adamant that she wants to alternate Christmases and described how she and her relatives gather around the tree, "grieving" that they're forced to celebrate Christmas without DSS.  (Her description would bring tears to the eye of anyone who doesn't know that all her relatives out there are observant Jews who do not, by any stretch of the imagination, celebrate Christmas and who would be distressed to hear her say she does...not to mention hearing her say they do!)

*** DH carefully discussed this with DSS, to see if he feels deprived of Christmases with his Mom.  DSS was adamant that he wants to spend Christmas here, with his brothers, and go to Midnight Mass with us and everyone he knows from school; and that his Mom doesn't observe Christmas.

*** So, DH has remained steadfast.  He reminded DSS's Mom that her own, original intent had been to let DSS spend Christmas here; and not being able to use free tickets isn't sufficient reason to change course.  She's under court order to pay for DSS's airfare.  It's the only form of child support she pays.

 

We don't know yet what's going to happen.  She hasn't changed his tickets. 

 


Edited by VocalMinority - 11/18/11 at 1:35pm
post #6 of 36

Jeannine-wow. That whole situation is kind of mind-boggling!  I hope you guys can hold steady and get her to change the tickets so your dss can celebrate Christmas with you and still see his mom.

 

We do every other year one parent gets Christmas eve through Christmas morning, usually at noon, and the other parent gets Christmas day through the 26th (or back to the regular schedule, however it works out).  While it can be annoying to plan around this and have to switch in the middle of the day, neither parents wants to miss out on the whole holiday or celebrate an entirely different day and it seems to work out all right, especially as dsd gets older. When she was little, she was exhausted and so crabby by the end of the day after spending C. eve with her mom (and I'm sure vice versa)-it was just too much excitement to then try to do more presents, dinner at family's house etc.

 

Aricha, how does it work with your other kids? do you celebate twice when your dsd is not with you or just move it to another day entirely?

post #7 of 36

 

Jeannie - What are you going to do if Little Miss Meshuganah doesn't change the tickets? Do you get in trouble if you don't send him? 

post #8 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by greenemami View Post

 

Aricha, how does it work with your other kids? do you celebate twice when your dsd is not with you or just move it to another day entirely?



So far we have always moved Christmas to a day she is with us. The other kids are little (2, 4, and 6 this year) and they don't really know the difference. It's usually just off by a day or two. When the kids are old enough to know the difference (which we don't think will be for a few years... we are all on vacation and fairly insulated from the outside world during winter break, and it's not like they are keeping a close eye on the date on the calendar), we plan to explain the situation and ask them what they would like to do.

 

Our whole extended family has always been on board with our alternate holiday schedule (we've done it for Easter, Thanksgiving, birthdays, and Father's Day in the past), and the relatives just call to wish the kids a merry Christmas (or whatever the holiday) on whatever day we are celebrating. Honestly, we have gotten so good at shifting the schedule that *I* sometimes forget we are celebrating a different day than other people.

post #9 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Smithie View Post

 

Jeannie - What are you going to do if Little Miss Meshuganah doesn't change the tickets? Do you get in trouble if you don't send him? 


We're still discussing that...??

 

post #10 of 36
since ex lives so far away (hes in colorado, we're in texas) ds doesnt get to see him often, so we kind of wing it with longer visits while we can now before ds starts school. last year, he spent christmas with dad, and was there for about a month. this year, we agreed on the day after, but now im kind of worried about that, as far as having to leave his new toys and stuff here and not get to play with them for a month. i dunno.... its tough. sometimes im glad he lives far enough away that we dont have to deal with all the drama and stuff, but other times i know it would be easier if he were closer, and the visits were shorter and more often.
post #11 of 36

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by scruffy too View Post

 

DSS is 6yo and I think Christmas Day is too busy for him, but it's not my call.  I'd rather the switch be made on Boxing Day or Christmas Eve [...]

 

Ugh, yes! Our Christmas Day means us getting up and on the road between 5AM-8AM and then spend another few hours in the car to get to wherever we celebrate Christmas Day after we pick up DSD. The problem is exacerbated by other family (read: inlaws) who must celebrate Christmas Day with DSD ... at their house ... every year. It's exhausting for me, though I suppose I do spend more time in the car than DSD so maybe it's not "too busy" to her. Also emotionally taxing since satisfying their want would mean spending no Christmases with my own family at all, so the past few years I've mostly just dreaded the Christmas event drama.

 

DSD's mom convinced DH to let her have every Christmas Eve through Christmas Day 9am. The Court ordered for this holiday split to alternate so they would take turns having the "burden" of holiday transportation and "perk" of Christmas morning. But in exchange for the Christmas Eve/Christmas Day not alternating, DH gets DSD for at least a week of winter break every year instead of every-other-year, so in the big picture that does work out well.

 

It seems to me like DSD is tired of celebrating other holidays twice (the other holidays we alternate mom still celebrates with her before we pick her up without fail, for example, the Easter Bunny visits/leaves Easter baskets before we pick up DSD for Easter holiday) but she hasn't expressed any displeasure with the Christmas arrangement, so trying to vent and get over my dislike of it.

 

Then, no matter how it's sliced, even non-blended families end up juggling the holidays around once the "children" get married and have kids of their own and have to coordinate schedules with an increasing number of parties and repeat the celebration a few times. In-laws can be as difficult as exes!

post #12 of 36

Quote:
Originally Posted by autumngrey View Post

Our Christmas Day means us getting up and on the road between 5AM-8AM and then spend another few hours in the car to get to wherever we celebrate Christmas Day after we pick up DSD. The problem is exacerbated by other family (read: inlaws) who must celebrate Christmas Day with DSD ... at their house ... every year.  

That stinks!  My parents and in-laws have gone along with celebrating Christmas where the kids are.  The grandparents had years, to put on Christmas for their kids, in their homes.  Now it's their kids' turn!  Plus, it's easier for the people without kids to travel on Christmas Day, than for the people with kids.  (Although, perhaps in some families parents feel grateful that the whole shindig - and clean-up - is at someone else's house.)

 

It's exhausting for me... Also emotionally taxing since satisfying their want would mean spending no Christmases with my own family at all...

greensad.gif  Well, you're going to have to figure out that one, in the next couple years!  Once your baby is born, your parents' willingness to never see you on Christmas will change dramatically.  And your in-laws' willingness to share holidays with their daughter-in-law's family ought to change, with a new baby.  If it doesn't, you will know their expectations are unreasonable, not yours!

 

DSD's mom convinced DH to let her have every Christmas Eve through Christmas Day 9am.

I know a lot of divorced families who like the consistency of having the same period to celebrate Christmas, every year, instead of alternating.  But it would be a pain for a step-parent, who is "messing up the program" if he/she would like to throw in alternating years with his/her family!

 


 

 

post #13 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeannine View Post


*** Then Mom became adamant that she wants to alternate Christmases and described how she and her relatives gather around the tree, "grieving" that they're forced to celebrate Christmas without DSS.  (Her description would bring tears to the eye of anyone who doesn't know that all her relatives out there are observant Jews who do not, by any stretch of the imagination, celebrate Christmas and who would be distressed to hear her say she does...not to mention hearing her say they do!)

*** DH carefully discussed this with DSS, to see if he feels deprived of Christmases with his Mom.  DSS was adamant that he wants to spend Christmas here, with his brothers, and go to Midnight Mass with us and everyone he knows from school; and that his Mom doesn't observe Christmas.

*** So, DH has remained steadfast.  He reminded DSS's Mom that her own, original intent had been to let DSS spend Christmas here; and not being able to use free tickets isn't sufficient reason to change course.  She's under court order to pay for DSS's airfare.  It's the only form of child support she pays.

 

We don't know yet what's going to happen.  She hasn't changed his tickets. 

 



I can't even quote the rest of the situation with your DSS's mother - she is such a piece of work - I feel so sorry for all of you dealing with her crazies every single year over everything.

 

BUT - if she's jewish, isn't that easy to prove? Especially since she's gearing up to change custody, just subpoena one of her close relatives and ask them about it.  Then ask if they celebrate Christmas too, have they ever celebrated with crazy-cakes, does she celebrate it to their knowledge....etc. etc. etc.  The subpoena would be very costly (you have to send $$ for travel to court), but she might call off all talks to going to trial after that because her lies would come to light (your DSS could also testify about that, but I would not pull him into ANY of the actual litigation.  However, the judge may wish to speak with him in his chambers to get a feel for where DSS wants to live, and how he wants to spend holiday's, etc - lies could come out then too).

post #14 of 36

We havent had any issues up until this year. DSC's mother was pretty much out of the picture. We just went to court and if she makes 12 consecutive visits she may be looking at some summer or holiday time next year. I think it will be extremely hard for me to give up holidays with my DSC since they never remember celebrating without me and so we will see. She is super agreeable one day and then not at all the next. what was my DH thinking haha!

post #15 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Super~Single~Mama View Post

BUT - if she's jewish, isn't that easy to prove? Especially since she's gearing up to change custody, just subpoena one of her close relatives and ask them about it.  Then ask if they celebrate Christmas too, have they ever celebrated with crazy-cakes, does she celebrate it to their knowledge....etc. etc. etc.  The subpoena would be very costly (you have to send $$ for travel to court), but she might call off all talks to going to trial after that because her lies would come to light (your DSS could also testify about that, but I would not pull him into ANY of the actual litigation.  However, the judge may wish to speak with him in his chambers to get a feel for where DSS wants to live, and how he wants to spend holiday's, etc - lies could come out then too).


It sounds like it should be that simple, doesn't it?  But the thing about distortion campaigns is that it's hard to prove a negative.  

 

DSS's Mom has never denied being Jewish.  The years she wants DSS on Christmas (or wants to claim Christmas, then trade it for something), she says the holiday's important to her because her birth mother was Christian; or because she celebrated Christmas with DH and DSS during the marriage; or because Christmas is "magical".  One year that she wanted to trade the holiday for something, she put up a tree in her apt., made a gingerbread house and sent us pictures as "proof".  Same thing, this year.

 

We feel such "evidence" that she celebrates Christmas is disingenuous.  I mean, seriously!  One minute, she volunteers to let DH have Christmas and doesn't even remember what day the holiday is.  The next minute - after realizing it's cheaper if DSS spends Christmas with her - she puts up a tree a full week before Thanksgiving and sends a photo?!  She puts up trees when she wants to win arguments, but the year DSS was actually with her on Christmas, he cried on the phone to his Dad because there was no Christmas at Mom's house and "Santa Claus forgot about him"?  Plus, DSS is older now and says he wants to spend Christmas here because we celebrate it

 

But those are all very tricky things to take in front of a judge!  

 

> A judge - with 15 minutes to consider the issue - might very well see a photo of Mom's tree and conclude she must celebrate Christmas.  (And would he discriminate against her because she's Jewish?  "I don't care if you do celebrate it!  Only parents who keep Christ in Christmas can see their kids on that day!"  I can't conceive of it.)

 

> DH can't tell the judge what DSS has said to us, because it's hearsay.  But we don't want DSS to have to testify for himself, and feel torn between his parents.  

 

> Besides, I feel strongly that if he did testify - even in chambers - he'd say whatever his mother wants.  He knows she will ultimately find out what he says to a judge or custodial evaluator.  He worries about how miserable, lonely and fragile she is; and how she clings to the thought that getting back together - and staying far away from DH - is their joint dream, not hers alone.  He's been well-coached.  And he's seen how his Mom turns on people and cuts them out of her life, when they disappoint her.  Whereas, he knows that even if he breaks DH's heart, DH will not reject him and will keep finding ways to stay involved in his life.

 

It's a real crap-shoot:  Would a judge take the time to see the devil in the details; or be swayed by superficialities (the mental picture of Mom and her relatives grieving around the Christmas tree, without DSS...)?  DH has seen both, out of judges.

 

> As far as Mom's family, I think they shaped how she is.  For example, when Mom wanted a share of her late birth mother's estate, Mom's parents (who adopted her at birth and were getting along swimmingly with her, at the time) helped her try to convince the probate judge that her adoption was never legal; she was not their daughter or heir; and was only the heir of her birth mother.  It sounds like her family confuses "unconditional love" with helping each other get whatever they want by any means necessary.  And they hate DH.  Mom bonded with DH (back in the day), by telling him of the horrible, abusive family she had fled from.  After the divorce, she reconnected with her family by telling them how horrible and abusive DH had been.  We assume they, too, would say whatever she wanted.

 

No doubt, we'll be in court over this eventually, but we'd rather wait as long as possible.


Edited by VocalMinority - 11/23/11 at 8:48pm
post #16 of 36

Yeah, she's crazy cakes alright.  Your poor DSS to have to deal with that.  I would almost give her every other x-mas (although really, if its in the court order that your DH gets every christmas because she AGREED to that, then the judge is going to know that and know something is fishy, especially since she admits that she is jewish, yk?)

 

I agree that you don't want your DSS to testify - talk about terrible!  The judge will likely want to talk to him in private though, and I'm really not sure they DO reveal what the child says - just use whatever they say in making the decision.  I don't think what the child says is revealed simply because it could put a child in the exact situation that you mention.  Don't worry about that, if it ever happens the judge will tell your DSS what is going on, why he's talking with him, and who he's going to tell.

 

Be thankful that your DSS knows that his dad will jump through every hoop, and do everything he can for him - kids need that SO much.

post #17 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by pomplemoose View Post

I think it will be extremely hard for me to give up holidays with my DSC since they never remember celebrating without me and so we will see.  hug2.gif

 

She is super agreeable one day and then not at all the next. what was my DH thinking haha!  I know, right?!

 

post #18 of 36
Quote:
Originally Posted by Super~Single~Mama View Post

I would almost give her every other x-mas...

DH does cave in a lot, to avoid Mom trying to get DSS on her side and DSS feeling torn.  He really hates that!  But, under the circumstances, we feel caving in about Christmas would mean sacrificing something that matters to DSS, to spare ourselves the headache of taking on his Mom.

 

I agree that you don't want your DSS to testify - talk about terrible!  The judge will likely want to talk to him in private though, and I'm really not sure they DO reveal what the child says - just use whatever they say in making the decision.  I don't think what the child says is revealed simply because it could put a child in the exact situation that you mention.  Don't worry about that, if it ever happens the judge will tell your DSS what is going on, why he's talking with him, and who he's going to tell.

A judge can say whatever he wants, but a child who has been dragged to psychiatrists from the age of 5 and told that his Dad will be thrown in jail; or that he'll be taken away from his mother forever, if he doesn't tell the shrink exactly what he's been told to say...and who has been coached for in-chambers meetings with judges since he was 6...and who has been assured that these professionals meet with his mother right afterward, to discuss what he said...is not going to believe that he can speak freely to a judge and that his mother will never know what he said.  He's just not going to believe that.

 

Be thankful that your DSS knows that his dad will jump through every hoop, and do everything he can for him - kids need that SO much.  Yes, and yes!


 

 

post #19 of 36

We aren't sure what will happen this year.  We haven't had Christmas with DSS ever (this will be my 4th Christmas with DH).  Up until this year there was no formal arrangement & DSS's mom always found some reason that we shouldn't have him.  One year she said that until she got more money, she didn't think DH should see him - that lasted 3 months.  Another year she said he had to go to her boyfriend's parents' house (for a week) right after Christmas so he would be too busy to see his dad.  I think the other year she just wouldn't agree to anything, started fights during every conversation, etc. 

 

Anyway, now that there's a formal arrangement, we are supposed to have him for Christmas this year.  I really don't expect it to happen though - we were also supposed to have him for our wedding a couple weeks ago, but she decided 2 weeks before hand to enforce one of the parts of the parenting plan that is more difficult to accomplish quickly (that she had never bothered to even mention before she found out we got DSS fitted for a tux).  I feel bad for kiddo, he was really looking forward to it, but we couldn't change things at that late of notice.  Point of this rambling post is that, given the history involved, I really doubt we'll get him for Christmas - I don't even think we'll see him before Christmas (supposed to be every other weekend) unless she gets irritated with him (same woman who once told DH that she was "stuck with his kid" and it "did nothing for her").  Maybe I'm being unreasonable - I keep trying to see things from her POV, and hoping that she really is trying to do what's best for DSS but I'm having a harder time doing so every time she comes up with a new & creative way to torture DH. 

post #20 of 36

We have no formal arrangement, either, here. We're still working out custody issues since our filing for divorce last year. Our current arrangement is with me Wed or Thurs-Sun afternoon or evening, and with their biodad Sun evening-Weds or Thurs. Every holiday for the last year, they spent with the parent who had those days by default. I've tried to arrange something for both Thanksgiving and Xmas for this year, but x-h doesn't communicate with me, so I am assuming that it is by default again for Xmas (and it was for Thanksgiving, but we exchanged on Thurs anyway). This year, since I will have them over the weekend, and Xmas is on Sunday, I will have them for Xmas eve and Xmas morning/afternoon.

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