Sustainably Single Parenting

Making the most of life's journey alongside my three!!!

A Wonderful Christmastime December 26, 2012

Christmas Day went better than expected. I’d stayed up until 5:30am on Christmas morning assembling the girls’ dollhouse.

The dollhouse has an elevator! It is taller than our Christmas tree. Hopefully they'll let me play with them!

The dollhouse has an elevator! It is taller than our Christmas tree. Hopefully they’ll let me play with them!

I’m sure that it would’ve taken less time if I’d a) had an electric screwdriver b) had gotten more than three hours of sleep the night before and didn’t have such a hard time comprehending the instructions c) had time and space to start working on the dollhouse before Christmas Eve and/or d) had a husband helping. It took me six hours, two calloused hands, and one more sleepless night to get it done, but I did it! I was proud of myself, but I was totally drained on Christmas.

I must have stared at these directions for 2 of the six hours it took me to assemble the dollhouse

I must have stared at these instructions for 2 of the six hours it took me to assemble the dollhouse










On Christmas Eve we’d attempted to make sugar cookies for Santa. The girls always love helping me in the kitchen so I let them pour ingredients and do some mixing. Just as I was about to scoop the flour I noticed mealybugs. Great. Another all day project of cleaning the cupboards is ahead, but at that moment I just tossed the bag and used an unopened box of gluten free flour instead.











The recipe I was using for the cookies didn’t call for gluten free flour. Sometimes the gluten free all-purpose flour is interchangeable with regular all-purpose flour, but for this recipe the dough was not holding together enough to be rolled and cut into cutesy Christmas shapes. I opted to add chocolate baking powder to half of our dough and convinced the girls that Santa would love our uniquely layered cookies. They were easier and faster than decorating  shaped cookies, they got the job done, and the girls gloated that they were probably the only children in the world who’d left Santa the type of cookies we’d made. Probably so. They tasted a bit chalky.











On Christmas morning the girls divvied up the gifts. I’d only written their names on a few of them. They opened and oohed and ahhed and thanked the gift givers. I told them that some of their gifts were donations from people in the community. I want them to understand that people can do great things for those they don’t even know. They were quite pleased, and they’ve vowed to help me go through their toys so that we can give things that they no longer play with to less fortunate children.


Santa stuffed stockings and left fairy costumes

Santa stuffed stockings and left fairy costumes

Santa and his reindeer enjoyed our cookies and carrots

Santa and his reindeer enjoyed our cookies and carrots









I decided early in the day that I wasn’t going to make the Christmas feast I’d intended to make. The turkey and homemade everything else can wait. I was far too exhausted and needed to rest my feet. I spent a good portion of Christmas lying down. The girls played with their new toys and enjoyed themselves without much need for my help.



My mother and sister know that I rely on maps and printed directions. Their gifts should keep my eyes on the road and the girls' tantrums under control!

My mother and sister know that I rely on maps and printed directions. Their gifts should keep my eyes on the road and the girls’ tantrums under control!











My mother and sister and the girls got me presents. I was also given numerous gift cards from classmates, my landlord, donors to my support group, and friends. The girls made me their presents at school; I absolutely love them!


Terra made a Christmas tree out of her hand prints!

Terra made a Christmas tree out of her hand prints!

Amara made me an ornament with our family on it!

Amara made me an ornament with our family on it!











Before bed we played several games of Uno. Amara is surprisingly good already and Terra (she played with her cards face up on the table so that I could help her make choices) won twice! It was a lot of fun. I didn’t have much time to stress and think about what I was missing. I tried to just enjoy my daughters’ joy. Seeing them happy and carefree and being able to relax for a moment was the greatest part of Christmas.


Oh Christmas Tree December 3, 2012

We’ve been given another gift of generosity. This time, a free live Christmas tree! I couldn’t believe it when we got the voucher, it seemed too good to be true. We’d just purchased an artificial tree on Black Friday and I’d been meaning to set it up, but time (and my reluctance to love it) kept me from opening the box. Good thing, because we got to return it after we used our voucher.


On Saturday morning we went down to the farm where they were giving the trees away. I figured it would be some slummy setup with the poor-people-trees in a shabby corner and the others spread about the farm. I wasn’t going to complain either way. How could I? A free tree. A live tree. A guarantee that we’d have help strapping the thing to the roof of our vehicle.

XMasTree2012-2What really occurred nearly brought me to tears. We were greeted by the farm workers as though we were family. The girls giggled with Santa Claus and told him what they want for Christmas (Dinosaur Train toys and Hungry Hungry Hippos) while a woman took my voucher and showed me the stations I was supposed to visit.

At the first station we indulged in cookies, brownies, cider, and candy canes. At the next station I was given three bags of ornaments (typical gift bag sized bags, there were about 40 ornaments total). The next station had specialized ornaments, decorations, and household items (candy dishes, candle holders) that had been donated and were free for the taking (I choose two packages of purple and gold ribbons to tie on our tree). The last stations were for getting a tree stand, and choosing a tree.XMasTree2012-3

We all agreed on a chubby tree that Terra wanted. It stands about five feet so we were able to fit it into the back of the van easily. I got it into the house by myself and got the stand set up. I even found my husband’s saw and cut the branches from the bottom to make enough room for the trunk to fit securely in the stand. I could not, however, jam the trunk into the base of the stand and screw it in without assistance, so I called a friend.

XMasTree2012-5Tonight the girls and I decorated the tree. It looks amazing to me. The first tree of our new beginning. I am still holding back my tears though. This is so difficult. Being without him…trying to stay strong. Last year he decorated the place so beautifully. There were lights around our entire living room and our tree looked amazing. He bragged that we had the best decorations in the condo association, and I (more humbly) agreed.

The girls think the tree is perfect. They do not see it as small and don’t know how it compares to our previous trees. They do not notice the personalized ornaments missing. They do not know that the afghan I’m using as a tree skirt was a free gift from someone who makes them and donates them to the domestic violence center. They do not know that every time I get a whiff of the needles I am crying inside because my wedding anniversary is on Winter Solstice. They do not know how much it’s killing me to stay merry, to teach them how to appreciate everything while I’m still mourning.


It’s good that they do not know. I want them to enjoy the tree. I want them to enjoy their Christmas. I want so badly for them to just be happy children, and not let any of this other stuff bring them down. I am very happy for our Christmas tree. It’s going to force me to cope with these painful memories, compel me to address these unhealed wounds. But it’s a beautiful tree, and I am very grateful indeed.