Holidays and narcissism

AAGGGG!!!  They all lose it around holidays, birthdays and special events.. don’t they?

There are definite times of year when I feel more tension and worry about what’s going to transpire and how it’s going to go than others.

The holidays is one of those.  My ex is always amp-ed up, and I want to make sure my kids have a good time no matter what crap is going on with him.

Here’s some suggestions on what I’ve found can help, and how to work around it:

1.  Any day and every day is a holiday.

If you’re christian, yes… Jesus was born on December 25th.  BUT.. that’s not to say that you can’t declare another day to be Christmas for your family.

The first year that my kids spent Christmas away – they were old enough to know the calendar and understand what was happening.  They were distraught with it, so I had to come up with a way to help them cope and deal.  So… we moved Christmas 🙂

I waited until their last visitation time with their dad prior to Christmas, then left a note from Santa on our door the next day, asking us if it would be okay for him to leave our presents at our house early – as he had a full schedule on Christmas Eve anyway, and he knew that it was more fun not to wait.

They were ecstatic!! So, that Saturday morning, we woke up to a pile of presents!  We stayed in our pajamas all day, cancelled all plans, ate festively, went to church that night to celebrate Jesus’ birthday early.  It felt like Christmas in every sense of the word.

And the next week, when it was 12/25 – They opened presents at their Dad’s which were presents that their Dad liked rather than presents that they wanted (he is narcissistic, right?  and the very definition of that is that he can’t see past himself… so of course all the toys are the toys that he had as a kid and liked!).  However … it didn’t quite matter to them, because they knew that they would return home the next day to a wonderful, loving environment filled with the real stuff that they asked Santa for Christmas.

Now.. how did I explain that away?  Well… Santa is only allowed to bring what the parents give permission for him to bring, right?  I mean… right???  So, their dad must have told Santa to bring those gifts that were there – and mom didn’t change their list from what they really wanted!

2. Remember that different teams of elves wrap up the gifts for each house.

Christmas can seem disconnected for children who’s parents don’t work together or communicate whatsoever.  So how is that explained?  Here’s what I tell them … Santa has teams of elves that wrap up presents for each house.  The elves do all the prep, and they can do it whatever way that they like, as long as it is okay with the parent(s) at the house.  So… each house gets things differently.  That means that their friends get things different, and so does each house in their family as well.

So far, this is working quite well.

3. Make your holiday be what YOU want.

Don’t feel pressured to change what you do or compete against the other side.  Your values that you want to instill often come into play during the holidays.  Making sure your kids get the right amount of gifts (not too little, not too much) can be one of those values.  It is for me – and so I make sure that they get the stuff that they care about the most, but that they don’t get too much.

Happiness is in the heart – not in what you have or what you don’t have.

And that’s what I stress to them.  So even if they are getting a ridiculous amount of present’s at their dad’s house… who cares?  What matters most is that they feel loved, taken care of, nurtured and respected.  Chances are, if you’re co-parenting with a narcissist… they are getting their needs met with YOU and not your ex.  And trust me… they know that, and they like it that you have boundaries and rules and morals and values.  They need it from you – and especially because they aren’t going to get it from the other side.

4. Pick your battles.

Choose carefully.  Is there a reason to argue certain things?  The less you let your ex affect you – the better off YOU are, and the better off your kids are.  It’s also a great example for them on how to not let their parent bother them.  In another article, I will cover the “bubble” theory in more detail, as I think it is important.  It works for you and your kids.   Imagine a protective bubble around you.  Inside your bubble is happiness and bliss.  It is your experience in life, and you design it.

Imagine that your ex also has an experience bubble around him.  It may be unhappy, desolate, filled with fury and discontent.

Who cares?  That’s his experience.   It doesn’t have to be yours unless you let it.  You can let it bump up against the outside of your bubble and go away again.  You don’t have to let it in.

Choosing your battle is a part of this.  What do you want to deal with and what can you let go of?  What alternate ways can you deal with the holidays?  His bubble is amped up with anxiety… but do we have to let that into our bubbles?

5. Christmas/holiday strategy number #2:  OVER-DO IT ALL.

Yep, you read that right.  Do so much Christmas stuff that you AND your kids are so DONE from Christmas that they can’t stand any more of it by the time that Christmas comes around.

Heck… put up your tree in OCTOBER.  Give Christmas cookies to the whole world throughout NOVEMBER.  Volunteer in every Christmas or holiday activity on earth for months before Christmas.

Then, by the time Christmas rolls around… it’s truly a non-event for you and your kids… and whatever your ex does, no matter how crazy he gets … who cares??

Are you Jewish?  No problem… have the eight days of lights be sixteen or twenty, and schedule them on the calendar for the days that work the best for you!!


In conclusion… my biggest take away is to remember that there are other ways to handle it all.  There are ways to find joy in your life despite the challenges that your ex brings.  There are ways to give your kids the life you dreamed of giving them despite having to deal with a scrooge of an ex.

You can do it!  I’m sure of it.  Super-parent powers… ACTIVATE.

Let there be peace on Earth, and let it begin with YOU


3 Responses to “Holidays and narcissism”

  1. […] How to Make Christmas Special for your Kids, Dispite the Nacissist […]

  2. StrongerMe says:

    I love this post. The first year post-divorce when my youngest son still anxiously awaited a visit from Santa, they were with their father. He felt that since we had two homes, we didn’t need to discuss gifts. If they got duplicate gifts, it didn’t matter because they had two homes. Really it wasn’t an issue because he only got them things that he wanted them to have. There weren’t any duplications. ANYWAY, the boys came home to wrapped gifts under the tree and my youngest looked confused. He said, “I thought that the rain ruined all of the wrapping paper so Santa didn’t wrap gifts this year?” Uhhhh…maybe he had a little bit left and then he ran out? UGH…I could have used a little bit of warning that it was the year the dream would be shattered. Oh, I guess I should have taken my DIVORCE as my warning!

    • Ya know… if you can step back a little from that incident, it’s really a belly laughing move on your ex’s part to tell the kids that Santa’s gift wrap was ruined in the rain. Ha! What I told my kids is that Santa can only ever do what the adult in the household approves/wants. So… they can write their list a certain way for Dad’s house, but if Dad wants them to have something different than what is on the list then Santa has to listen. That’s why the traditions vary so much from house to house and with their friend’s houses too. (I know so many people who don’t wrap Santa’s gifts at all). I hope you have a wonderful holiday season – at least the best possible given all the complications.

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