As many of you know, on Christmas Eve six years ago I got an unexpected, unforgettable, life-changing gift. Many Christmas seasons that followed were a challenge emotionally, and while there are still remnants of that heartache, it’s gotten better every year. I honestly feel like I’m on the other side; that I’ve made it through.

Here’s a look at my Christmases past and the progress I’ve made. Hopefully, my story will serve as an example that it does get better, you will heal and life does indeed, go on.

While there are still remnants of that heartache, it gets better every year. Photo credit: Instagram @mini_marley

While there are still remnants of that heartache, it gets better every year. Photo credit: Instagram @mini_marley

2013 

I discovered my ex-husband’s adultery. This was the beginning of the end of my marriage.

Exorcising the ghosts of Christmases past is emotionally painful at first, but it’s gotten better every year and I feel like I’m on the other side. Photo credit: Instagram @nicoleWalters

Exorcising the ghosts of Christmases past is emotionally painful at first, but it’s gotten better every year and I feel like I’m on the other side. Photo credit: Instagram @nicoleWalters

2014

I had filed for divorce, and Darling Daughters (DDs) and I were still living in the marital home. I decorated the house for Christmas as I always had, however, my daughters and I went away as I decided it would be too hard to actually spend Christmas Eve and Day in the house.

I don’t think I’ll ever forget how palpable the sadness was. I decorated the room a bit and brought our stockings and gifts to open, and though we all tried to be jolly and festive and to hold back the tears, we ultimately failed. It was one of the few times I cried openly in front of my children.

In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness. John 1:4-5

2015

The divorce was finalized at the beginning of December after 18 long, contentious months. With the divorce came shared custody, split vacations and alternate holidays. A few days after the divorce was finalized the house was sold, and thus it would be the last Christmas in the marital home where both children had lived their whole lives. DDs spent Christmas with me again that year, and New Year’s with my ex and the woman he cheated with, who was now openly his significant other.

With the divorce came shared custody and alternate holidays, which makes the Christmases I spend with my children even sweeter. Photo credit: Instagram  @mattiejames

With the divorce came shared custody and alternate holidays, which makes the Christmases I spend with my children even sweeter. Photo credit: Instagram @mattiejames

2016

This was the first year in the new house, and for Christmas, I bought a fake, white tree. While I kept many of our old traditions – making peppermint bark, drinking white hot chocolate from our Christmas mugs, a new ornament for each of my daughters – I wanted something a little different as a symbol of this new life.

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” – Luke 2:14

Per the custody agreement, we alternate holidays and this is the first year that I don’t spend Christmas with DDs who instead spend it with ex and his girlfriend. Since I found out about my ex-husband’s adultery on Christmas Eve a couple of years earlier, adding insult to injury was that the girlfriend had been slotted into my place and got to celebrate the holidays and play happy family with my kids. DD2 was visibly upset the day the left to go with them, and clung extra tight and extra long to me before leaving, while DD1 showed her upset in other ways. 

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My daughters and I had a full-blown Christmas before they left, and I went away to the most un-Christmasy place I could imagine, so while I was mostly ok, I was still kinda angry at God about the injustice of it all. How do they (ex and girlfriend) get to have a happy family Christmas together with my kids when they destroyed said family?!

2017

We decorated the white tree again. DDs are with me for Christmas. We celebrate with our familiar Christmas traditions (peppermint bark, white hot chocolate, new ornaments), but beyond that, I still feel the need for Christmas to be unlike Christmases past, so we did something different and traveled from Europe to The States to spend Christmas with my family. 

“Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” – Romans 12:10

2018

DDs are with ex and I again book a Christmas getaway. I thought, “I got this”. After all, I’d been away from my daughters at Christmas before, right?

Something I’ve learned is to be mindful about what I’m doing and feeling during the holiday season, because the blues can sneak up on you. Photo credit: Instagram @being_her

Be mindful of what you do and how you feel during the holiday season because the blues can sneak up on you. Photo credit: Instagram @being_her

I got up on Christmas Day and went for a run, picked up a coffee then went back to the hotel, showered, got dressed…then a melancholy came over me so suddenly and so completely that I couldn’t do anything but crawl back in the bed, covers and all.

I made plans for the day, including meeting a Facebook friend who lived in the city for coffee, and reservations for Christmas dinner.

There were no tears. Nothing dramatic. Just this weird depression. I lay there for a few hours, dozing on and off, and would have skipped my reservations and just stayed there had I not made plans to meet a Facebook friend who lives in the city. Turns out that was the best decision ever. She too was alone for the holidays and a little blue. We only hung out for a couple of hours but it was what we needed.

2019

Even though I feel like I’ve made it to the other side, I still need to be intentional about the holiday season, because the blues can sneak up on you, as I learned last year. My DDs are with me for Christmas this year (Oh, and we got a real GREEN tree this year), and their father for New Year’s, so I’ve already made plans to meet with people and put friends on alert to check on me. I’ve even scheduled a pajama day because did you even have a vacation if you didn’t have a pajama day?

After six long, painful years, I’ve made it to the other side. Photo credit: Instagram @nitraab

After six long, painful years, I’ve made it to the other side. Photo credit: Instagram @nitraab

Again, I say, it gets better. There might be setbacks but when you recover you’ll discover that you’ve come a long way.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Prayers and hugs, and God bless us, every one.