Holidays are supposed to be a time of merriment and conviviality. Experience has taught us that they are also a time of immense stress. This is especially true where families are no longer intact. Families bring with them a sense of “expectation” and holidays are full of rituals, whether it be the Thanksgiving family football game in the backyard or the Feast of the Seven Fishes at Christmas. Your families expect you to be there and to be there in the company of your kids.
Sometimes scheduling doesn’t work so well, either by accident or design. The annual Feast of the Seven Fishes is Christmas Eve and most divorced families alternate that evening so the children may miss it every other year. So, there is your family on Christmas Eve asking you about the whereabouts of your kids for the important family event while your ex is at their house with the kids doing nothing except eating pizza and watching Toy Story for the hundredth time.
In olden days, which is to say before cell phones and electronic mail, you might have given thought to calling the ex and telling them just how selfish and stupid it was that the children were missing a special family event with grandparents and cousins. But, chances are you didn’t make that call because that was going to be unpleasant at best. Today, however, you have a new stealth missile in your communications arsenal. You can send a blazing email or text expressing every dark thought your mind can conjure, hit send and instantly turn the device off knowing that the missile will hit its target.
Don’t. It is a temporary feel good moment for you but one which creates a permanent record of your anger and leaves collateral damage that affects the kids watching Toy Story and the co-parent from whom you will need a favor sooner or later. Indeed, you are probably right that Fishes with Family should trump Toy Story, but all you are really doing is making your kids feel bad at a time of the year when the real goal is to spend time feeling good.