I’ll be home for Christmas


Editorial written by junior staff reporter Lexi Amaro

My parents have been divorced my whole life, and every Christmas I’ve ever spent has been split between one parent or another. According to our joint custody agreement, whichever parent I’m missing on Christmas gets me for Christmas Eve until 8pm. For example, if I’m with my mom for Christmas, my dad gets me until 8pm on Christmas Eve. Therein lies the dreaded exchanges. 

Exchanges are when both parents agree on a prearranged meeting place and time. For us, it’s our local grocery store, halfway between my parents’ houses at 8pm every federal holiday. Personally, my parents have never got along, so having them both in the same place has always been a source of anxiety for me, even growing up. I remember a particular assignment when I was in kindergarten in which I had to draw what made me sad. I drew a picture of my parents taking me away at an exchange. 

If I have Christmas with my mom, I’ll go to my dad’s on Christmas Eve, and we head over to my grandpa’s house. After dinner and presents, I spend time with his side of the family until 8pm, when my dad has to drive me to our meeting place. My mom will be upset, since we were most likely a few minutes late, but we will head home to open one present– Christmas pajamas. The next morning, we pack up and go to my grandparent’s house. 

My mom has a very small family. One sister, two parents, and up until a couple years ago, one nephew. We help my grandma set the table, eat a traditional Christmas meal around noon and sit down to watch golf until my mom decides it’s time to open presents. My aunt usually never shows, until her husband decides to stop by and eat two servings of leftovers and leave right after. The next day, I’ll go back to my dad’s to see that my siblings–ages four, six, and ten–have already opened their presents. They’ll sit down and watch me open mine, all the while trying to unwrap them for me. Of course I didn’t expect them to wait for me, but it still makes me sad.

Christmas with my dad is a bit different. I’ll spend Christmas Eve with my mom, sad and disheartened knowing I have to leave soon. We’ll sit down around 7pm or so and open presents. My mom will take me to the exchange, I’ll tear up, and she’ll tell me not to cry. My dad will be coming home from the Christmas party at my grandpa’s, and we’ll go to sleep when we get home. The next morning, we all wake up and my dad records us all opening presents, starting with the stockings and going one at a time. We’ll spend the rest of the day playing with presents until we most likely end up going to my stepmom’s father’s house. They also throw a Christmas party, but it’s usually a while before Christmas. 

Since it’s my junior year, this will be my last Christmas with my mom before I graduate, and next year will be my last Christmas with my dad before I go to college. In fact, I can drive this year, so I can just drive straight to my mom’s house. No more exchanges. No more tears.