Christmas Comes But Once A Year

Those of you of the Scrooge fraternity and anybody daring a city high street as I have just done, may well say “Good”.

On the mediation front, I can’t be the only mediator who dreads broaching the subject of the coming Christmas with clients as we edge nearer to the day. I have to say however that my experience this year has been that the vast majority of my clients have sorted out what they are going to do already. That really is very different from how it used to be when I metaphorically donned a tin helmet and readied myself for the fallout.

I think that it’s actually testament, not to better natures, but to the fact that certain models for sharing Christmas seem to be establishing themselves. They are becoming a societal norm, as indeed happened with alternate weekends and, geography permitting, one or two nights during the week. I’ve certainly had mediation clients tell me that they have talked to friends who are separated who have suggested certain patterns.

So what are they? There appears to be an overall acceptance that arrangements should be alternating. Sometimes that means the whole of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with one parent one year and with the other the next. When parents live close to each other, a growing favourite is an alternation of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to after lunch with a handover for the rest of the big day and the children spending Boxing Day with the other parent. I am impressed by the number of my clients who recognise that their children will want, ideally, to see both Mum and Dad on Christmas Day.

And surely they do and that is after all the only thing that matters. We all reclaim some of the Christmas magic when we have our own children or grandchildren. That magic lies in their joy. So I wish a Happy Christmas to everybody whilst aware that there are many, whether for reasons of family breakdown or loss for whom those words may feel somewhat hollow this year.

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