The best kept secret of single parenting is Tag Team Christmas.
My ex and I have an agreement where we each see the kids on Christmas Day, alternating which house they wake up at every other year, and switching at noon. The first year after we separated I prepared myself for the worst Christmas of my life, and my parents agreed to come to to support me in what we all thought would be a horrendous outpouring of grief interrupted by a few hours of holiday cheer. We all assumed the crash position and waited for impending negative emotions…but they never came.
If you ask my kids, Double Christmas is the best part of having two houses. It is the one time of the year when other kids are jealous of them. They get two trees, two stockings, two stops from Santa's sleigh. the kids strike the motherlode twice in the same day, year after year. They are in all their glory, so you get a day off from parental guilt.
But the kids aren't the only ones who benefit. Here's the truth about kids on Christmas - they stay up too late fighting sleep, making it impossible for Santa to come until midnight, and if Santa didn't finish wrapping, Santa might be up until two in the morning. Then the little angels wake up at the crack of dawn, decimate the toy pile in under an hour, and spend the rest of the day whining and being over-sugared and under-slept.
Enter tag team Christmas. Children wake up at Parent A's house descend on presents like a pack of hungry hyenas, play with toys for an hour, and just when they start to get to that whiney stage around noon, they get dropped off at Parent B's house. Parent B got to sleep in and finish Santa duty in the morning instead of the middle of the night, so Parent B is not overtired and cranky. Parent A gets to go home and take a nap, and Parent B gets to do Christmas after coffee and breakfast, like a civilized adult.
It is truly a win-win for the parents, and the kids are wallowing around knee deep in presents, so they happy, too. Of course, the day after Christmas let down is still unavoidable (heck, I still get it at age forty) but Christmas day itself is far better when you have someone to tag in with.