Holiday Side Effects

Let’s Be Frank: The Diary of a Divorced Gay Dad

OLDER BROTHER: “Look, you're gonna get two of everything, right? Two birthdays, two Thanksgivings, two ... ”

YOUNGER BROTHER: (holding back tears) “I don’t want two of everything.”

OLDER BROTHER: “Yeah, well, it's not up to you. There's a point you have to grow up.”

The preceding is three lines of dialogue from the recent film “Jurassic World,” between an older teen boy and his adolescent brother, regarding their parent’s divorce. When I saw that scene in the theater, I quietly broke down inside. It actually pissed me off. I thought to myself, “This isn’t accurate at all, and this is one of the selling points I’ve been using with my son.” However, with time, I have come to understand that it’s a very realistic sentiment about divorce – from the child’s perspective. With that in mind, I feel that it is my duty to protect Briggs from these side-effects of having to alternate holidays between me and his other dad.

The following is a conversation between me and my son, a couple of weeks ago:

“Hey buddy, let’s go sit down and decide who you want to be for Halloween this year!”

“OK Daddy, can I be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle again?”

“Nooooo, because that’s what you were last year, so maybe we can look at the costumes online and find one you like.”

“Can I be anything I want?”

“Yes sweetheart, you can choose to be whoever you want … except a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.”

This interaction probably sounds very familiar to a lot of you – and it has always been one of my favorites, year after year. But this time it is different, for a few reasons:

  • He realized he would only be trick-or-treating with one of us – me, in a brand new neighborhood.
  • I feel sympathy for his other dad for not being able to experience the holiday with him.
  • The entirety of the holiday falls on me, which means I feel a new pressure to make it perfect.
  • I know I’m just talking about a cheap costume and some diabetes-inducing candy, but let’s face it, these are major memories we make with our children. I want to protect those memories for my son, and also try to include my ex-husband in those as much as possible. We decided to alternate each holiday, meaning Briggs will spend Thanksgiving this year with him, Christmas Eve with me, and Christmas Day with him (yeah – Christmas Day with him – be sure to catch my follow-up post about that day, if I can pull myself out of egg-nog-soaked despair). Next year it will switch, and so on and so forth. Some of the holidays can be doubled up, like birthdays, and even Easter. I invented “Preaster” this year and did a miniature egg hunt with a basket on Good Friday, since I didn’t have him on Sunday. Other holidays are clearly about the day itself, like Father’s Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, despite what “Jurassic World” said.

    I thought a nice approach would be to list the pros and cons of this bizarre scenario – let’s face it, it’s weird any way you spin it – from every perspective:

    PRO:

    - the whole “two birthdays, two Easters, two …..”

    CON:

    - that really doesn’t apply to every holiday

    PRO:

    - our son will pretty much be guaranteed an amazing holiday

    CON:

    - the solo parent could possibly have a shitty holiday

    PRO:

    - I have full control over the holidays in my house

    CON:

    - I don’t make nearly as much money as my ex-husband, so I’m going to have to get damn creative

    CON:

    - our son will miss one of us

    CON:

    - one of us will always miss our son

    CON:

    - our son will have to tell different holiday stories at school than most of his friends

    CON:

    - we will most likely feel like we have to over-compensate, and therefore probably spoil him too much

    ... You are catching my drift. However, remember that I am very positive-minded, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let some divorce Grinch come and rain on my festive parade. I made this list to refer to and reflect back on. I’m hoping that with time, I can remedy some of these and turn the ‘cons’ into ‘pros.’ I’m going to keep a very open line of communication with my son and ex-husband about this to ensure that everyone is appeased. I’m going to strive to make a conscious effort to better things at all points in time. And tomorrow, I’m going to take Briggs around my brand-new block, holding his little Iron Man-costumed hand. Later that evening, just like every year, I’ll devour his candy when he goes to sleep.

    You can see more of Frank Lowe at:

    YouTube: www.youtube.com/gayathomedad

    Twitter: @GayAtHomeDad

    Instagram: gayathomedad

    Facebook: www.facebook.com/gayathomedad

    Be a Part of Our Story

    Join our continuously growing community of dads, families and industry experts. We’ll provide education, anecdotes and advice for wherever you might be in your journey to fatherhood. Sign up to our newsletter:

    Sign up to our newsletter