So this is Christmas…


I put my ex wife’s Christmas tree up today. Not, not up there you monsters, but in the pot so that it could stand proudly in the house and signal the start of Christmas for our children.

I did the lifting and carrying and shunting. Screwing all the bolts in so that it’s safely held in place and not liable to fall on a 3 year old, a 2 year old or both. I did it simply, and easily. No swearing or cursing. No pine needles in the eye. It was, actually a breeze. I am, officially, awesome.

I did it because my ex has a bad back and wouldn’t be able to do it herself without intense pain. I did it so the children could have a laugh and get all keen and excited, which they duly did, with T as my little helper. We also decorated my ex-wife’s bush at the front of the house.

Honest, you lot are monsters! Stop sniggering at the back!

I also did it because my ex isn’t feeling very well. When I saw her this morning, she looked grey and quite ill. Of course, my instinct was to ask her if I could do anything. She told me the children are in playgroup tomorrow and she has a day to do Christmas shopping. I suggested she stay in bed for the day and rest, otherwise she’d be no use to anyone, she’ll not recover enough to be able to go to the four more Christmas do’s she’s got, as well as do shopping, as well as look after the children… and then I stopped because she gave me a look as if to say ‘this is how it is now. This is life’.

I got the lights for the tree out of the garage, and my ex pointed out that ones I’d chosen didn’t have an adapter to go with them. But it was okay. There were other lights, ones that did have an adapter, and they’d be fine.

Blimey, she must be feeling unwell. On any normal day the missing adapter would’ve caused a minor meltdown and I would’ve been ripped a new arsehole. But not today. Perhaps she was tired and unwell. But perhaps she was also sad.

Today, one year ago, we made the decision that we would separate and divorce. That was it. No going back, no reconciliations, no couples counselling and no way we could recover what we once had. I’ve received lots of support from people on Twitter and through the blogging community and I thank you all for putting up with me through a difficult year. I thought, recently, as the “anniversary” of this decision approached that I was doing better. By and large, I am. I know what I want, and I know it’s achievable, with a prevailing wind. I have some very special people in my life and my focus is on them. I also know that I should find time for me too but I’m kinda rubbish at putting myself anywhere near the top of the list. How can I when the wonderful people around me deserve so much? But I know things will work out. The next act and the dramatis personae in it are the people I love. Beyond words.

But these people deserve me at my best, and today, now, right now. I’m not. A temporary glitch. Normal service will resume tomorrow or later, I know this. But about an hour ago, putting up the Christmas tree and seeing all the Christmas decorations that my ex and my children would adorn the tree with, putting my coat on and saying goodbye, again, I sunk a bit.

Glass decorations on a tree. Festive trinkets filling a house full of Christmas cheer. The smell of a real tree filling the air. Twinkling lights. Christmas cards. Christmas cards, fuck. I’d forgotten about those. The first year she’ll be sending them out without my name on them. Best wishes sent in the post which might invite more questions from others who may not know we’ve divorced. Christmas cards she’ll receive from others wishing us all, me included, a wonderful Christmas as a family.

I’m writing this because someone truly astonishing suggested to me once to always write from the heart. And so I am. I’m writing this to get it out of me and out of my heart, if I can. These glass decorations, the smell of the tree and the twinkling lights remind me, like a hammer blow across the face, that it was never supposed to be like this. We did a deal a few years back. We got married and decided to have a family. Love each other and cherish each other and we made the decision to have a family secure in the knowledge that we did, could, and always would.

Something changed, as it does for many of course, and while our love for our children will never diminish, our feelings for each other faded and died. I can’t regret the decision we made to split, as I know that it had to be this way. Of course I worry about the effect this may have on our children but I know, and feel to my very core, that another life which I can’t wait to start is just around the corner. So while I’m happy in lots of things, I’m sad about something, and this sort of cognitive dissonance is always confusing.

I’ve walked a bit while thinking about this post. I’ve walked thinking and I have to admit, crying. I’ve walked about wondering if part of the reason why my ex was so subdued today is because she knows that today, a year ago, everything changed. I’ve walked about wondering if my children will be okay with all this in the years to come. I’ve walked about wanting to run from this fucking awful town and be somewhere else.

I’ve walked about thinking where the fuck did I put that adapter?

Thanks for reading.

13 responses to “So this is Christmas…

  1. Your children will be okay with this because they have two parents who love them and however hard it is to be round each other will make the effort for those two small people.

    Can you go straight back out now and start a new collection of Christmas decorations … ones that will continue your journey to the new life you know you will make? When my daughter was small I made her a tree decoration every year with the date on it … might that be something that helps you to make T & K the focus rather than the familiar rituals that are tugging at your heartstrings just now?

    Hugs for your hurt and confusion … this too will pass as they say

  2. What a beautiful post. I agree that you now need to get your own tree, your own decorations and yes, your own traditions. Maybe even start dome new ones??? I let my kids choose a decoration each year for the tree, then, when they have a family, they will have a box of decorations each for their first family tree. I also went to Wilkos and got lots of paper chains and we made those.


  3. Hi Spencer, what a moving and heartfelt post. I agree with what some others have posted – go and get your own tree, new decorations, make or buy them with your little ones and they too will become special. Wear silly Christmas jumpers, have a mini Christmas party to Annoying Christmas tunes and bake mince pies together. This Christmas is a new beginning of Christmasses to come- make them good. Make them positive. (I’m speaking from experience here!) sending big hugs x

  4. Beautifully written post, I think both of you are bound to be feeling the sadness of your decision as it comes up to the anniversary, probably doubly so with it being near Christmas. Keep writing and talking, I’m pretty sure it will help. Love Corinne x

  5. This post has stayed with me all day. I just will say what I think and hope I don’t hurt your feelings by it. I think it’s better to live a hard truth than an easy lie. No relationship is easy but you seem happy with your decision overall. It must be very hard at this time of year but I can imagine it would be hard too if you’re in a relationship looking at the other person and just not feeling it anymore.

    As others have said you are one of two loving parents. Your kids will be fine.

  6. The one thing that I always find remarkable in your posts is how, you and your ex are able to put your children above all else. I come from a broken home and my father wouldn’t of done what you did today, even if you’d paid him. Your children will be fine, they have parents that adore them. I hope this Xmas doesn’t cause you too much upset x

  7. What a lovely thing you did Spencer. It’s a beautiful blog, written with honesty as usual. I broke with my ex at Christmas and indeed have a draft blog about it that I haven’t decided what to do with yet. Christmas has evolved for us over the past 8 years, as it will for you, so long as you keep putting the children first you’ll be doing ok xxx

  8. Christmas can be an utter shit regardless of anything that did or didn’t happen close to it. The thing, the most important thing, is that YOU are amazing. Throughout everything, the pain and the tears and the shite you have always put your children first and always been ok for them. I want to buy you a coffee from one of the many refreshment establishments that your fine town has to offer and I want to tell you over and over again how bloody brilliant you have been and how lucky your kids are to have a daddy like you. And then we can grumble about how Tescos destroyed the hight street and other pressing local matters

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