PREPARATIONS AND LESSONS

fairy lights

Christmas preparations have commenced. Colourful fairy lights framed the large window in the room where we eat. A pine evergreen bouquet soaked in a tall glass jar and graced our dining coffee table along with a smaller jar of cranberries next to two large pomegranates and clementines. The scent of cloves with cinnamon and lemon wafted from the stovetop and greeted the children as they arrived at my place tonight.

A few more decorations made their way on the walls and the Safi cabinet by the front door with more to follow in the coming week. The Christmas tree being the next item on our list in trying to make this holiday time we get to spend together as memorable as possible despite the challenges we face.

Since the children did not get to spend Thanksgiving week with me, as would have been the case had I not given in to the request conveniently forgotten, I prepared a belated Thanksgiving dinner tonight for us four to share. The salmon was in the oven along with broccoli steaming next to it with water and olive oil and seasoned with salt. Basmati rice finished on the stove as they arrived.

Their father was late, as usual. Instead of respecting the fact I wished to start my time with our children after not seeing them the past five weeks, he commenced to engage in a long-winded discussion about how I did not want the children for Thanksgiving week and that he and his new wife did me a 'favour' by taking them off my hands as I traipsed off to Ireland to see my fiance'.

My face contorted in a most bewildered look as I explained to him how he and his wife asked me, or rather insisted, they have the children for Thanksgiving. As a result of their request, I had to change my travel plans as I intended to be gone during only one of my weeks with the children instead of the two which ended up my not seeing the children for five long weeks as we alternate child care weeks. I remember how he explained the divorce decree was 'wrong' and should have stated that we each have a holiday per year instead of one parent getting both Thanksgiving and Christmas.

I wondered why he did not simply make changes to the decree at the time. Why bring up the issue this year. I remember sitting in the car as I dropped off the children at their father's house that Friday back in September, reminding him how he already had the children last year for Thanksgiving. She piped up as she grabbed his arm and mumbled something about having family over for Thanksgiving dinner two weeks after their wedding.

I then reluctantly gave in. I should not have thought since I do not have a 'complete' family that it did not matter. That it was not a real Thanksgiving if the table did not include my other half along with extended family. This year I learned my lesson.

I stood at door leading to the garage from inside the house arguing with him. She stood at the entrance to the large garage door instructing me about something or other with the children's shoes and ballet clothes and whatever. I was not paying attention to her. After her accusation of using my time with my children on Skype in order to spy on their house, I learned another lesson.

As a result of his choosing to use my time to greet the children in order to pick fight after fight, which included him wanting the train turntable, the salmon was dry as it over baked and the broccoli was mushy and not tasty even to me. Yet we four sat at our belated Thanksgiving table and ate the meal before us. Save for my son who insisted salmon gave him a headache and thus refused to eat more than two bites of it.

Stefan continued talking about their vacation plans letting me know they now have extended their vacation to Germany one more week after they had initially told me they would return. Though this would not have been an issue a month ago, it leaves me in a bind as I now have to find child care for my children for an extra week as I start a new job and a new chapter in my life.

After I could no longer bear to listen to any more of what he had to say, I told them to leave so I could get started with my time with the children. Later that evening, I sent him an email informing him we would be resorting to email from now on in order to discuss any issues regarding the children and any changes in our schedule. No surprise, there was no response from him.