Thanksgiving kicks off the start of the winter holiday season, which is a stressful time for just about anyone. It's especially stressful for divorced or divorcing parents, who often clash over where the kids will spend which holidays, or even how many hours of each holiday each parent will have the kids. Many parents are particularly territorial over Christmas, a day for recording precious memories of children's reactions to gifts, and gathering with family members you may not see for most of the year. Not having your kids with you during such an iconic family holiday seems unbearable to certain parents, even if they have the kids for most of the year.
The unavoidable truth, however, is that compromises, maybe even outright sacrifices, have to be made in order to ensure that your children have a happy holiday season. Logistics are the biggest problem for divorced parents living in separate cities or states, maybe even different countries. If you are the parent with primary custody, you may have to concede major holidays to the non-custodial parent. You may also have to accept that your children will be there overnight, or maybe even several days depending on the driving distance, availability of flights, etc. These are logical factors to accept, but other factors are harder to swallow. For example, a parents may get upset about the other parent “one-upping” them with plans for a holiday vacation at Disneyland. While it's possible that the other parent is trying to lure the kids with an irresistible offer, that's not really important compared to your kids having a great time at Disneyland.
Another common issue is pressure from family members, especially grandparents who may fly in from other states to see the grandchildren. For your children, this may be the only opportunity to have any real amount of time with these grandparents. Perhaps it seems unfair that they only choose to fly in once a year, or never extend an invitation to have the kids come to them at another time of the year. It may seem unfair to your parents as well; don't they deserve time with the grandchildren during the holidays? Unfortunately, assuming someone's intentions, what they should do instead, and how this makes you and your family's life miserable won't lead to any constructive conclusions. If you and your ex are on good terms, you may want to bring up these concerns in a civil manner after the holidays. However, doing what's best for your kids may involve accommodating your spouse and his family in ways you hadn't anticipated. That's the key to all issues involving parenting time – doing what's best for your kids. At the end of the day, your children shouldn't have to pick between certain family members or having certain holiday experiences versus not hurting your feelings. There should certainly be compromises and exchanges of time between both parents, but a realistic holiday parenting plan is not always fair and equitable.