Holidays for the Targeted Parent

Holidays were always drama-filled occasions, normally spent trying to see Larry’s children….. without much success.

His original divorce document indicated that he could visit and take with him the children on alternating holidays. When we moved in to our new place in 1983, his children were 6 and 9. We did not see them at all that holiday — on Christmas Eve or on Christmas Day. Even though Christmas Eve was on a Saturday and Christmas Day was on a Sunday that year — and Larry’s regularly scheduled weekend visitation with his children. They spent both days with Mom and we celebrated the holiday with them the next weekend.

So when 1984 rolled around, Larry naturally assumed it was his turn and he would have his children with him on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, just like his ex had the year before. Guess what her response was when he mentioned that to her? To have the children (ages 7 and 10) write a letter to their father, telling him they’d like to spend Christmas Eve with their mother and Christmas Day with him.


You’ll even notice how she made sure to tell Larry that she wanted to spend time with their daughters, even though making arrangements for him to spend time with the children was of no concern to her the prior year, since it was “her turn.”

Well, 1985 came and it’s was Mom’s turn to spend Christmas with the children. Interestingly enough, that year both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were considered “the holiday” …. of course. And, again, we celebrated with the children the weekend after the actual holiday, seeing them neither Christmas Eve nor Christmas Day.

There was a more detailed entry filed with the Court in February 1986:


Seems clear enough, doesn’t it? Well, it wasn’t quite that easy. According to the document just signed in February, 1986, Larry was supposed to have his daughters on Christmas Eve, since it was an even-numbered year, from 6:00 p.m. until 12:00 noon on Christmas Day. We had heard nothing to the contrary, so Larry called on Christmas Eve, around 5:30 p.m., to let his daughters know that he was on his way. His youngest answered the phone, stepped away for several minutes, then came back and said her sister had strep throat, so they could not come over. We did not see the children on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day this year.

Christmas, 1987: an odd numbered year, meaning his children should have been with him on Christmas Day until 10:00 a.m. on the day after. But, as usual, that wasn’t going to happen:


In our particular case, we have a parent who has 7 and 10 year old children write their father a letter explaining why court ordered visitation should not take place …. instead of perhaps having a talk with the children and explaining to them — very gently and very lovingly — that, now that Mom and Dad are no longer together, the holidays are going to be different, but can still be special. Even after Larry’s children were adults, we spent very little time with them on holidays. The reason they gave us was that they needed to spend the day with their mother, who was all alone, instead of with him — since he was surrounded by family and friends.

That’s our story of PAS and the holidays.


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