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What day is Christmas Day?

Many separated families fight over who gets the kids on Christmas Day as they may not have been without their kids on Christmas Day before. It is such a special time of the year when families get together to celebrate, they just can’t contemplate not having the kids with them to set out the cookies and milk for the reindeers the night before, open the presents together Christmas morning, have the big Christmas feast at lunchtime, followed by games with the cousins in the pool or backyard. Who wants to miss out on family traditions of getting together on Christmas Day, it’s what has always been done for years right!

You may not have a parenting plan or formal orders in place guiding you on what has been agreed and therefore need to negotiate when you will spend Christmas Day with the kids.

Some coparents have moved on with their lives and are happy to share Christmas day as a family together, which is similar to times gone by, just that your ex is more a friend now or your business partner of your children.

Some coparents have gone ahead and made their own Christmas plans with extended family assuming they have the kids, only to find out their coparent has done exactly the same. Then it’s on for young on old battling it out why the kids should be at their Christmas instead of yours. It can go as far as tempting the kids with a bigger and better event so they are asked to choose, putting the children in an awkward situation to take sides.

Often parents engage lawyers or mediators to try to get a 3rd party to settle their dispute, trying to justify why they should have the kids on Christmas day!

Christmas is supposed to be a happy jolly time for the whole family, especially the kids!

As parents, you owe it to your kids to sort this out, don’t leave it to Santa to make your kids happy at Christmas. Many kids make requests to Santa to “make mummy and Daddy not fight anymore”

So where do you start?

Work out if one parent’s Christmas feast is celebrated at lunchtime or dinner time, as this can make it easier if you both live nearby for the kids go to both.

If it isn’t feasible to share Christmas day what is the alternative?

The key is to understand what Christmas day is. Is it the actual day itself? Or is it what happens on the day that’s important? There are many days over Christmas to share time with the kids and extended family; Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or Boxing Day.

List out what is most important to you as a parent to share with the kids by prioritising each activity;

Christmas Eve –

o Carols

o Going to mass

o Christmas Eve special dinner

o Setting up cookies and milk for the reindeers

Christmas Day –

o Opening presents in the morning

o Going to church

o Christmas lunch

o Christmas games in the afternoon

o Christmas dinner

Boxing Day –

o Special lunch

o Games or the pool in the afternoon

o Picnic with family

So go ahead and work out what activities are most important to you in order of priority.

Work with your coparent to see what are special activities for them too

Remember there are three days to share the kids over Christmas and it doesn’t matter which day you have them as each of the priority activities can be done on ANY day. It is the special moments that you create with your kids, NOT the actual date.

For example, you may have selected the following 2 as your main priorities as being special activities to celebrate at Christmas –

1. Opening presents with the kids

2. Special Christmas Meal

Now these can be done on ANY day!

So what options are there?

Option 1 - If you had the kids on Christmas Eve, you could have a special dinner with extended family joining you. They bring presents for the kids that can either be opened all together Christmas Eve night or left under the tree for the next morning. After dinner, you can help the kids put the milk and cookies out for Santa. The next morning you open the presents early and then the kids get ready to go to the other parents’ house.

Option 2 – If you have the kids for Christmas day, then you can receive them at 10am and open presents together. The extended family join you for Christmas lunch and you enjoy afternoon games. At 4pm the kids go to the other parents.

Option 3 – If you receive the kids at 4pm Christmas Day, then you can either open presents together then with extended family who are over for dinner or setup the milk and cookies for the reindeers for that night to wake up Boxing Day morning to open presents and have extended family over for celebration lunch and games in the afternoon.

Instead of fighting over Christmas Day ad spoiling Christmas with conflict, create Christmas day on any day over Christmas.

Author – Cheryl Duffy - Mediator, Divorce Coach & Author

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