During the holiday season, my family would gather in Mami’s sala wearing their finest threads. From glittery dresses to red heels and lips to boot, it was the ultimate #salaslay. This year, however, the holidays look different. Instead of dancing bachata with my family and my son’s arms wrapped around my neck, I celebrated Thanksgiving with my best friend and will spend Christmas Day alone.
As a single mom that coparents, I have no choice in the matter. Evan will spend Christmas Day and New Years Eve with his father as it’s his year as per our coparenting agreement. As much as I’ve accepted this new normal, it’s still difficult to look around the room and not see my son. It was heartbreaking to call him over Facetime and wish him “Happy Thanksgiving!” with a lump in my throat.
At 5 years old, he’s old enough to understand that he has two homes. That he won’t always be with his mami when he wants, even if it’s on Christmas Day. And although we are celebrating Noche Buena together with my mother and sister, parting ways on Christmas Day will hurt him as much as it hurts me. Still, I do my best to smile and remind myself (and him) how fortunate we are. I’m extra grateful for this year because I will be there with him when he opens his presents on Christmas Day. I’ll witness his excitement as he runs down the stairs to the Christmas tree, and rips the wrapping paper to shreds. And we will hug and kiss and wish each other, “Feliz Navidad” and feel oh so happy.
Thanksgiving was quite the opposite this year as I spent the holiday with my best friend, Lourdes, and her family. How we celebrated that night felt worlds apart from traditional celebrations. We said, “Adios #salaslay!” and wore athleisure. I’ve never rocked sweats at a holiday dinner in my life, but there I was with roomy velvet pants and more breathing room for coquito. We ate roasted chicken instead of pernil. As for dancing to the break of dawn? My best friend and I danced to merengue ripao while she cleaned the kitchen. By 11 p.m., we were in her living room playing Poker and Dominoes with her family.
Despite not being with my son, I am grateful that I don’t have to spend the holidays alone when Evan is with his father. I actually had a blast on Thanksgiving Day. I laughed so hard that I cried. My best friend is hilarious and our banter is to die for. I learned that I’m terrible at Poker because I cannot bluff even if my life savings depended on it and I spent quality time with my BFF and her husband, who is also my BFF. I would not have survived on Thanksgiving Day without Lourdes, her husband, and her two boys.
I still missed Evan terribly, just like I will on Christmas Day. I always miss him when he is with his father, but splitting him up hurts a lot more during the holidays. I work through it. I accept that this is my new normal. That he is better off with two involved parents instead of one. That the holidays of donning red lips and crocodile shoes, and spinning around the living room with Evan in my arms are long gone.
Despite the sometimes gloom and doom of it all, I am much happier now that I was then, when we lived under one roof and spent the holidays together. In the long run, Evan will be all the better having two fulfilled parents and two houses to call home, even if that means spending some holidays without his mami.