Can there be a ‘just us’ holiday time?

  • Thursday, October 10, 2019 1:30am
  • Life

Q: I’ve been reading your column for some time. It seems you have been there and always point out things I don’t see, so I thought I would ask about my situation. I live around the corner from my husband’s ex. They co-parented their two kids — a week with each parent — before I got here and following your advice, I just got with the program. I haven’t interfered and have been accepted as part of the club. BUT, now that we have added a little one to the family there are sometimes I wish we could do things “just us” and it seems like the kids’ mom is always included. Take Halloween. Normally, we would all trick-or-treat together, but now that the baby is joining us, can’t we just once have a private family holiday?

A: Excellent question. The answer is yes and no. It all depends on what you consider to be “your family.” Is it you, dad, your baby and every other week, his kids or you, dad, three children and on occasion, their mother? I found the second choice to be my reality.

Some rarely share holidays after a break-up and stick to the “your Christmas, my Thanksgiving,” point of view. But, because precedent was already set prior to your entering the mix and your husband and his ex have always celebrated together, your concept of family might have to be adjusted — and with that, how you celebrate family holidays. Not all holidays, but some.

You may be thinking, “Ah, but Halloween is a perfect holiday for it to be “just us.” It’s even left off the holiday parenting plan in a court order sometimes. I’ve often heard parents say, “Let it fall where it falls,” meaning whoever has the kids on that day can sponsor Halloween — but it also means the other parent will probably show up at some time during the evening.

Here’s where considering the Ten Rules of Good Ex-etiquette comes into play. Rule No. 1, “Put the children first.” Go back in your memory banks as a kid. Where did you rank Halloween in terms of importance? Most kids rank it right up there with Christmas. What other holiday can you dress up anyway you like and go door to door for free treats? Plus, think how excited most parents get about those costume pics. So, even though you might think Halloween is a “secondary” holiday, it’s really not for most families.

You can establish a “family” precedent, however. Start a tradition in which only you, your husband and the kids patriciate in an aspect of the holiday. It doesn’t have to be on Halloween, but Halloween related. For example, “Family Pumpkin Carving Night” or “Halloween Cookie Night.” Try it out on the weekend prior to Halloween. Don’t be surprised if the kids want to invite their mom. If that works, then invite her, but if you want to establish it as your night, just say something like, “Your mom is going to join us for Trick-or-Treating.” Stay away from things like, “Your mom doesn’t have to be included for everything. This is just for us.” Even though you might feel like that, it will hurt the kids’ feelings — and they will remember it. Remember, precedent was set before you got there, so you have to work within those parameters. That’s good ex-etiquette.

Talk to us

More in Life

Low-cal craft beer becomes vital during the quarantine

Don’t reach for the Michelob Ultra Light just yet. We tasted 18 beers and picked the winners and losers.

Ask Dr. Paul: Adjusting to the new normal with COVID-19

Here are some tips to help you embrace and cope with our new way of living in a pandemic world.

Jump on the everything bagel bandwagon with this zesty salad

If Whole Foods is sold out of the seasoning mix, relax — you can make it yourself.

Need a fun weekend quarantine project? Try citrus marmalade

The preserves are as delicious spooned on toast as they are over grilled pork or chicken.

Rick Steves on Pompeii, Italy’s frozen-in-time Roman city

The volcanic ash that destroyed the city also ensured its remarkable preservation, down to the folds on victims’ togas.

Keep frozen bay scallops on hand for a sweet quarantine dinner

The dish can be ready to eat in less than 15 minutes — even including the time to defrost the shrimp.

Traveler wants full refund after virus halts flight to Vegas

Southwest Airlines agreed to a refund, but didn’t include the EarlyBird option that he paid for.

Local Girl Scouts adapt to the pandemic by scouting at home

The coronavirus isn’t stopping these Snohomish County girls from earning badges and awards.

2020 Nissan Altima is quiet, comfortable, and fuel efficient

One year after a complete redesign, more safety features have been added to lower-cost models in lineup.

Most Read