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Tears at Thanksgiving

My mother maintains a blog—a private blog that she uses to keep the family up-to-date with the latest family news. Because her five children (and four children-in-law and seven grandchildren) are scattered from Ontario to New York, from Georgia to Tennessee, she makes her blog a central repository for news and information we need to know. Yesterday, based on conversations she had around Thanksgiving, she posted some thoughts on divorce and its awful ramifications on families. This was not meant to be a treatise on divorce, but merely an opportunity for her kids and kids-in-law to reflect on what she had seen in the lives of her friends. I thought it was something that was worth sharing and she graciously allowed me to do so.

So today my mother, Barbara Challies, is guest-blogging. We changed just a few words and phrases to make this short article make sense to an outside audience. We deliberately left the final paragraph in its original form—a plea from a mother to her children to never, ever allow the thought of divorce to enter into our minds.


I am continually amazed, then re-amazed, at the carnage of divorce. I see this in Heather, a beautiful and godly friend of my youngest daughter.

Every holiday is a time of balancing all the family pushes and pulls for a child of divorce. No matter what uneasy solution a child arrives at, it does not satisfy everyone, and the child herself is ultimately blamed for causing unhappiness. In this case, ongoing pressure is placed on Heather to warmly embrace the woman who willingly displaced Mom when Dad decided to trade her in for a newer model several years ago. Mom was left bitter and potentially destitute—without even medical insurance; certainly no current skills with which to provide for herself.

Dad goes on to a life of increased wealth as he marries a young, childless woman immersed in the corporate world. Do you challenge Mom about her bitterness? When? How? Do you refuse to acknowledge Dad’s new acquisition as a relevant part of your life? When? How? And all this comes to a head at holiday time. You have to make specific choices that externalize your thinking on the matter.

Who will I eat Thanksgiving dinner with?

Christmas dinner?

I have prayed and agonized with Heather over these things. I generally encourage her to give her mother the best of every holiday—it may not be a bad thing for Dad to live with the consequences of his actions. Still, there is no truly satisfactory outcome in this situation. It is too broken.

I came up against this again last weekend as I spoke on the phone with an old friend from Washington. She and her husband have both been divorced in the past. They experience holidays, of course, from the perspective of the parents. That is, with many tears. She said they both had been crying for days—crying for too many absent spots at the table, too many war wounds in their young. They are at the receiving end of the choices their kids make for holiday time.

I pray for you, my children, that you will all see with the eyes of eternity—that through the trials and tribulations of life—specifically marriage—you will never have the shade of a doubt that, from all eternity, God planned for you to be with the one you have pledged to be faithful to. Guard your hearts and never allow the slightest strain of, “Well, maybe”, or “What if”, to enter your minds. Your unconditional commitment to your marriage, based on a total conviction of God’s sovereignty in bringing you together, is its greatest strength!