I've been thinking about Christmas. Not in a super-organised planning kind of way, but in terms of logistics: who, when, where, how.
Traditionally - even in the years since we split - we have had my ex's family for Christmas day, either with or without their associated children. It is always a wonderful time. On the surface.
The kids enjoy themselves. I enjoy the company of my ex's mum and sister, and adore the children. But there is always something missing.
Last year, I excused myself from the festivities to go and phone my brother. In reality, I sat in my bedroom and cried. I cried because I didn't know if it would be our last Christmas all together. And I cried because I didn't know if I desperately did or didn't want it to be. I cried because I felt detached from all the people in my home; people who were actually all intrinsically linked and related to each other. I was related and attached only to my son.
Part of me longed for our Christmas times to go on like this forever, yet another part of me wanted to move them on; to do what I wanted to do, perhaps spend it with my parents, or my immediate family. But we have never done that. We have always done Christmas exactly the same way. It comes round with an easily familiarity; the morning, lunchtime and evening all following the exact same pattern year after year.
So I've been sitting here wondering: is this the year I make a stand and instigate 'you have Christmas Day, I'll have Boxing Day' type arrangements, or do I let it just go on as it always has done, until something external comes along to change it? Given that we live this way the rest of year, is there really any point in upsetting the apple cart for what amounts to just one day?
What do you think?
How do you deal with the Christmas period as a separated or estranged parent?
For more of Kelly's columns on being a separated, but not quite single parent click here.