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New Ideas For Old Holiday Traditions



Like a devastating fire, divorce is usually tragic. But good can rise from the ashes. I am not a child of divorce; my parents have been married for over 50 years. But growing up, my family had two Christmas traditions: We celebrated Christmas Eve with my mother’s family because that’s what they “always” did, and we celebrated Christmas Day with my father’s family, as he had growing up. The compromise worked out to benefit all.

I cherish my Christmas traditions, but the truth is they were made up. They only became traditions because we repeated them.

When child custody comes up in my work with divorcing couples, this is one of my first questions: Do the parents have new family traditions they can adopt for their children going forward? Alternate custody is often the court’s solution, and seems to create a “loser” out of one parent each year. Since the couple is permanently reorganizing their family, I propose that divorcing parents consider starting new traditions. This idea can make the holidays even more joyful.

Hanukkah has eight nights. Parents might choose to alternate their evening celebrations. If Christmas is celebrated, rather than yearly alternating holidays, couples have the opportunity to create a new tradition: The children can look forward to spending every Christmas Eve with one parent’s family and every Christmas Day with the other parent’s family. This eliminates the holiday “loser.”

These new traditions will be cherished by the children if the parents embrace them. Perhaps they’ll have to flip a coin to see who gets what, but once they start observing the new tradition, the children will never experience a year where they wish they were with the other parent during a particular holiday.

Happy Holidays,
Ty Supancic and all of us at The Law Collaborative
The Law Collaborative, APC

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