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Separated/divorved - how does Christmas work for you?

(46 Posts)
Toastandstrawberryjam Fri 30-Oct-15 05:11:47

STBEH left in February. Trying to keep things amicable although very difficult due to the kind of person he is.
Yesterday I sent him an email regarding Christmas and asking his plans, he's told the DC recently he doesn't want Christmas lunch with us and I wanted to have that confirmed.

His reply said how he thinks it's important we have some time separately with the children but also try and keep to some of our traditions. Ok, all well and good. And in this light he wants to spend Christmas Eve with us, be there Christmas morning, then have them Boxing Day and overnight.

Hmmmmmm now to me this seems a bit unfair? I want to get this right from the start. Also how on earth does it work that he sees them open their gifts, they have always done that about 5am! Do I have to make them wait until he gets here?

ppandj Fri 30-Oct-15 05:26:43

Hi Toast
Sorry you're having to deal with this, it must be hard to navigate the special occasions.
I can only offer the POV of someone whose parents separated when I was 6 and say, if it's ok with your STBX, maybe ask them what they would like? If it's important to them to have their dad there for presents they will wait til he gets there.
We got around this by my mum doing our stockings, which we opened at stupid o'clock, then we had a special Christmas Day breakfast where we had whatever we liked- waffles, bagels, croissants etc. It worked well as a compromise of us getting the magic of the stockings but then being occupied enough until my dad arrived. What would you like as your ideal?

Toastandstrawberryjam Fri 30-Oct-15 05:31:57

My ideal would be taking the DC away somewhere where he can't spoil and manipulate Christmas for us. But I'm trying to be the bigger person here!

Have tried to talk to DC. Eldest doesn't care but thinks it's weird to do stuff together. Middle one doesn't want to see him at all. Youngest wants him there all the time (currently the focus of STBEH's attention in his bid to try a new way of manipulating us). So I somehow need to keep them all happy!

ThomasRichard Fri 30-Oct-15 06:12:48

STBexH left in May. We're sticking to our usual contact arrangements, which means that I have the DC on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and they go to him on Boxing Day.

I couldn't be doing with him coming over for the best bits. Walking out on your family means you don't get to pick and choose, in my book at least. And I'd end up wanted to throw the turkey at his head grin

Toastandstrawberryjam Fri 30-Oct-15 06:16:50

He didn't walk out, I had to get him to leave after many years of emotional abuse that were escalating. I'm still trying to repair my DC from the damage. But it is incredibly hard to try and sort out Christmas arrangements when he spoiled it with his behaviour every year, this year I would like my DC to have a nice Christmas.

ThomasRichard Fri 30-Oct-15 06:26:05

Same thing. He emotionally abused is family. He doesn't get to make demands to come back and do it again.

Friendlystories Fri 30-Oct-15 06:32:21

Assuming you and STBXH have bought separate presents why should he get to watch them open the gifts you've paid for? I have stepkids from DH's first marriage, they live with their mum so they're at home for Christmas morning but come to us for a couple of hours late morning/early lunchtime to open their presents from us then go back home in time for Christmas dinner and we see them again Boxing Day or the day after. Hard as it is on DH they have the best of both worlds (two lots of presents) and we don't feel it's fair to take them away from their home/mum/family traditions and try to keep their Christmas as close to how it's always been as possible. They're much older now so it's a bit less of a big deal but we've always felt the way we do it is what's best for the kids and that's what matters, think your STBX is expecting a bit much tbh.

Toastandstrawberryjam Fri 30-Oct-15 06:39:29

He wants us to buy presents together (which I'm fine with as I've always been the one who did all the researching/choosing/buying and he just saw the gift when it was opened!). And youngest still believes in FC so I think separate gifts might be confusing.

I don't so much mind him being here Xmas morning (well actually I do but I'm trying to put my feelings aside) I just feel that there isn't much left for me to have on my own with them.

I'm aware I may be coming over as slightly irrational with all of this and possibly not being fair. It's compounded by the fact my middle DC is ill (his behaviour to us being a factor in her illness) and I'm very protective over my DC and trying to avoid damaging them further.

OliviaBenson Fri 30-Oct-15 06:46:44

I think you are being far to accommodating. Don't buy presents together- he needs to sort himself out. I'd let him round either Christmas Eve or Christmas morning and that's it.

kittybiscuits Fri 30-Oct-15 06:51:41

His suggestion is ridiculous. Full respect to you for getting rid of this knob. I believe he is cut from very similar cloth to my ex. I tried reasonable last year but he abused it. He will be unable to consider the children's needs and wishes and is probably obsessed with his rights. IME the only tolerable outcome is the one where he gets it exactly as he wants. I would make a sensible counter offer. No joint presents. He can visit at 10 on xmas day for 2 hours and then see them on boxing day. When he argues with that, keep in mind the possibility of going away because I suspect this guy isn't big on compromise and negotiating skills. Good luck.

Friendlystories Fri 30-Oct-15 07:02:55

I agree with Olivia and Kitty, separate presents, we got round this by saying FC had left some at each house because he knew the DC spent time at both, I don't think that's confusing for them in fact it helps them understand the whole separate houses thing especially as they can see there are actually some benefits (more presents) to it. I think you just have to work out what you feel happy with (so that you get time for it to be just you and the DC) and tell him that's what's on offer, take it or leave it. It doesn't sound like he's in much of a position to negotiate after all the damage he's done so make it clear its on your terms or not at all.

Cabrinha Fri 30-Oct-15 07:05:04

All shades of no.
Especially the lazy arse expecting you to sort out all the presents!
We're heading into our third Xmas, with the same plan which works really well.
Child has been 4, 5 and now 6 - so, believing in Santa age.

He has more family locally and frankly grandma / XMIL won't be around forever, so I prioritise child having bigger family Xmas day over being with me. This year, that's likely to include a girlfriend and her kid - but I'm happy to take the emotion out of it being "Xmas Day" - she'll have loads of fun.

So:

Xmas Eve, me - because it's my favourite time. All the magic without the materialistic present fest! (though I like that too)

Xmas Day: wake with me, all the fun of presents.

Off to Dad at 11:00. More presents. We simply explain that Santa does a double drop for kids with 2 homes. So he still gets the same wide eyed "OMG he's been!" excitement.

Back to me 10:00 Boxing Day.

So I don't have to worry about boring relatives, turkey dinners no-one wants, over tired kids at the end of the day...

It's great! Yet in giving XH "Xmas Day" it's like it's fair! Sucker!!!

Make new traditions.
Don't be forced into what you don't want.
Keep in mind by next year you might want something different - new partner even?
And don't take any shit about Santa. Santa is magic. He does both houses, easy smile

kittybiscuits Fri 30-Oct-15 07:11:07

Oh and sorry to hear that your youngest is being 'worked on'. Have you got a handle on what/how he is manipulating? It's awful when your DC are just used as a screen to continue the EA.

Toastandstrawberryjam Fri 30-Oct-15 07:11:21

My fear with separate gifts is he will use it as a chance to one up me. This is something that happens anyway on a day to day basis. So I will get the same sort of gifts they always get and he will start handing out Mac books etc. whilst I don't think my DC will then love him more (!) I don't want them to be spoilt and materialistic.

Plus he has no idea what on earth they like!!!

All of Xmas used to be my favourite. He knows this, which is why I know he will try and make things as painful as possible for me. Usually be now I would be hunting stocking fillers and planning decorations and already more excited than my children ever get. A toxic childhood myself meant I always tried so hard to make my DC's Christmases as wonderful as possible.

GoodtoBetter Fri 30-Oct-15 07:12:16

What kitty and fern said. I've seen some of your threads before, your STBXH is a cunt he really is, and a manipulative, controlling one at that.
No joint presents. Tell them FC leaves some at each house or do stocking from FC and presents from mum and dad. Ours are 4 and 7 and we say stockings from FC and presents from mum and dad as we don't have much money so it stops the whole wanting a really expensive present as they know it's us buying it, not being magically appeared by Santa iyswim.
Also, don't let him come over to watch them open them, he can buy is own and watch them open those ones.

Toastandstrawberryjam Fri 30-Oct-15 07:13:30

Kitty - she's having attention showered on her. Poor kid isn't used to him ever really noticing her before and definitely not in a caring way. Yet suddenly he's dad of the year and can't do enough for her. It's patently obvious to me and her siblings that he's given up on manipulating them and moved onto her. I don't know what to do, she's so happy that daddy finally likes her (her words).

GoodtoBetter Fri 30-Oct-15 07:14:07

Better to let him get them ridiculous presents once a year than let him in and give him control over your Christmas. Because he wants to wreck, believe me. Hold firm, set the boundaries NOW to suit you, NOT him.

Cabrinha Fri 30-Oct-15 07:14:11

Oh and year 1 I co-ordinated on presents.
Year 2 I figured that if there were duplicates then Santa was bright enough to know she liked it enough to play with it in both houses.
Didn't need the added convo with him!

Cabrinha Fri 30-Oct-15 07:18:30

You know you can't compete on the presents so (as you are wisely doing) don't.
Carry on getting excited about Xmas.
Those decorations are up from the first Saturday til 12th night at my house!
We collect a tree together, dress it, do a panto in the run up - all sorts of traditions. Oh we do the local pub full of kids early Xmas Eve too smile
There are so many options. Xmas lasts a month! Making the cake together?
Build your new traditions and remember that no present ever truly bought a child.

Minikievs Fri 30-Oct-15 07:18:56

I split last year. I had them Xmas Eve and Day until 4, he had them the night and Boxing Day. This year it's the other way round. Seperate presents, as FC will visit both mummy and daddy's house. The way he's suggested to you doesn't seem fair at all. Where's your time alone with them?

kittybiscuits Fri 30-Oct-15 07:23:50

Children are smart and can work it out over time, as horrible as it is to watch. Ah yes - trophy presents. There is a robot in this house that has been turned on twice wink. You're doing a great job toast. KOKO flowers

wannabestressfree Fri 30-Oct-15 07:27:11

I agree with the others. Seperate gifts and start as you mean to go on. The first year I compromised and it was horrible - cold shouldered me in my own home, glared at me over dinner. I have made my own traditions now and we have the decs up early and really embrace Christmas.
Please give thought to what people have said. This year I have the children Christmas eve and the morning of christmas day and my ex has them for dinner and boxing day. We alternate. I still do the panto etc and other bits.

Fadingmemory Fri 30-Oct-15 07:27:41

We used to split Christmas Day each year. DD lived with me. One year she would be with her father on Christmas Eve and up to midday on Christmas Day then with me for Christmas lunch and Boxing Day. The next year she would be with me up until midday on Christmas Day, then with her father for the rest of Christmas Day and Boxing Day. He and l lived 30 miles apart so there was some driving involved.

It meant that I spent half of Christmas alone (too far to then travel and see other family members) but it meant that DD saw both of us on Christmas Day (very important to her). I saw her open either her stocking early in the morning, or her presents later.

These days, now she is in her 20s she chooses to spend most of Christmas with me, then may go to stay with her father for a few days. He now lives 250 miles away.

riverboat1 Fri 30-Oct-15 07:27:51

DSS normally has two Christmases, one on the 24th with his dad and me and GPs, one on the 25th with his mum and her family. Thing is we are on the continent where the 24th and 25th are considered equally special so no one is a 'loser'. Some years though where those precise dates don't work out we/ex move Christmas around to be on whatever day suits.

I'd suggest two separate Christmases with separate presents, one gets Xmas Day and the other takes their pick of doing their Christmas on either Xmas Eve or Boxing Day. I don't think it's necessarily fair for him to have Xmas Eve AND Boxing Day AND be there on Xmas morning, it's too much and not really in the spirit of building separate traditions.

Penfold007 Fri 30-Oct-15 07:37:25

Stop allowing him to control everything. Now is the time for new traditions unconnected with his EA behaviour. Your eldest children have told you what they want and you know you have to protect the youngest. Separate presents exchanged in your respective homes is the way to go. Give him no help with gift ideas. Have Christmas eve and day with DCS and he can have them Boxing day. You can swap next year.

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