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The Biggest Mistake I Made This Christmas

Photograph by Twenty20

As a divorced mom who co-parents two kids with two different dads, we all tried something different this year and I totally regret it.

Historically, Christmas is a massive situation for us. Despite being Jewish, we go all out, right down to expressive love notes for Santa and homemade snacks for him and the reindeer. All the families (both my ex’s and their partners) do a grand morning ritual. It lasts for hours and there is nothing better than seeing my babies (6 and 10) opening presents. Literally nothing.

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This year I told both dads it was cool for them to go visit their families and I would be cool spending Christmas alone. It sounded like it might be a nice change, no present shopping or wrapping, no planning, no hustling around. No stress.

I was wrong and I’ll never do it again.

Christmas Eve I tried to work. I had articles to write and two TV pilots due. The quiet and solitude would be perfect for me to jam for hours uninterrupted. Didn’t happen. Tried to watch some shows for inspiration. Couldn’t focus. I Facebooked. I Insta-stalked. I FaceTimed my kids. Tons of lonely guys were hitting me up on Raya (the dating app for B-list celebs) to come over and “snuggle.” Divorced dads from NYC wrote me, wanting to chat. It was utterly depressing.

I finally got in bed and prayed for sleep, counting the hours until my Soul Cycle class the next day. My sanctuary. I woke up to something that felt nothing like Christmas. The only thing that said "happiest day of the year" was the great parking.

I love my solitude. But this was a different kind of solitude. I felt like the only person on the planet. I thought about roaming the aisles of Ralphs just to see people. It was that weird.

And then my Grinch-filled Christmas took an amazing turn.

And that’s when it dawned on me: it was the giving that I was missing out on.

I texted a friend who had sinus surgery two days earlier. I checked to see if he needed anything and wanted a visit. Why yes, he did, and one that included pastrami on rye and a laundry list of Jewish deli items. I perked up. I was off on a mission to give and help. To get off myself and on to giving. I was on a mission to help a friend in need. And on Christmas! Nothing could stop me!

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I arrived bearing gifts from the deli counter and relieved the previous shift of visitors. I hopped in his cozy bed with him, helped him with his ice packs and meds and gossiped for hours. I was overjoyed. He was elated. I spent the second half of my day fully immersed in care-taking, helping and being of service. Christmas cheer was finally on.

And that’s when it dawned on me: it was the giving that I was missing out on. It reminded me what this stupid holiday is really about. It's about sharing joy and giving and if I couldn't do it with my kids, I sure as hell was going to make sure I did it somewhere else. 'Tis the season after all.

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