Shared Custody at Christmas

By far one of the most difficult things about being one half of a separated pair of parents, is making arrangements for Christmas, birthdays, and/or any other significant dates on the calendar. I've been bought up to make an occasion of pretty much anything - birthdays have always been a big deal, and my family make a real "thing" about Christmas. As I've formed my own family, and forged various relationships along the way, I've had to alter my "norms", and kind of lower my expectations slightly, in acknowledgement of the fact that these occasions aren't such a big deal to a lot of other people.
I really struggle where Seb is concerned though because, being separated from his Dad, I only get a partial share in his Christmas (and birthday/Easter/Valentine's Day/Mother's Day/Father's Day etc. etc.) experience. Also, on a more selfish note, it means that I don't get to create my own ideal Christmas, as it always has to feature arranging shared custody of him with his Dad.
As families go I think we have a really fair and reasonable set up for Christmas, which is helped somewhat by the fact that his Dad and I only live a couple of miles apart. One of us spends Christmas Eve night, and Christmas Day morning with Seb, and is thus responsible for putting out the mince pie and carrot in the evening and filling a stocking - and the other, collects Seb at midday and spends the afternoon and Boxing Day with him - to include Christmas Dinner.
Last year, Seb stayed with his Dad on Christmas Eve and I went to get him at midday. I burst into tears when I woke on Christmas morning without him and it definitely wasn't how I envisaged Christmas mornings when I became a Mum (it probably didn't help that Boyfriend was really ill on Christmas Day last year and so there was little to no Christmas spirit going down).
That does mean though, that this year, Seb's with me on Christmas Eve and I can't wait for him and his sister to have their Christmas Eve boxes to open (with matching Christmas Eve pyjamas), to watch a Christmas movie, get a takeaway, and send him off to bed before I smuggle a pillow case of presents in to his bedroom.
I'll be sad to say Goodbye to him at midday as he heads off with his Dad for lunch - but I'd definitely rather share the joy and excitement of Christmas morning with him than the later part of the day. Of course, once Christmas has been and gone, I'll have to prepare myself for next year when I won't be getting "the better deal" - but as I said, at least it's fair.
A lot of people, my ex husband included, would suggest that this is what I "signed up for" when I decided to end my marriage, and in part yes, of course I knew that it would be really hard at times sharing custody of my (then) only child. It's never what you expect to face when you have a baby though, and Seb is still very much my first baby - so it isn't in any way easy to part with him, even if it is as a product of my own choices.
This Christmas, and throughout the year as families celebrate any number of significant dates - I extend my love and warmest hugs to those parents who're making the most of complex family arrangements, and who are perhaps missing their own children, who're more often than not, the only people we really want to celebrate with.

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