How Great Thou Part

I am forever indebted to my mom.

Anyone who has been raised by a single parent can attest to the devotion and loyalty you feel to the parent who was constantly physically, emotionally and financially available to you.

As a young adult, I carried a significant pang that I lost her before I could repay the debt I felt I owed her.


I wanted to be able to do things for her, take her places and ease the burden of solo parenting she had graciously lived.

Years later I decided since I could no longer treat her maybe one day I could start a foundation of some sort. A safe haven that might be a resource to those who become primary parents with little or no physical, emotional or financial help. Of course, there are many good divorces where both parents share equally in the responsibility. However, in other situations, one parent essentially disappears from daily life.

There are a plethora of single parents who need but will never ask for help.

It attacks pride and self-dignity and is extremely humbling.

Even the most confident, independent and together person occasionally needs help. Thus, a parent going it alone definitely does.

Now that I am older and in my mother’s shoes I marvel that I thought I had to honor her in a grand way with a foundation.

In fact, it reminds me of the story I tell about my uncle the priest. I was going to a big city soup kitchen to volunteer and he reminded me it’s better to do so in our own backyard. Why? I would have made it into the city once a year. Volunteering in my own community meant it might actually be something I continued to do.

There were always people I could have helped in what to me seemed like small ways but to their lives would have made a grand impact.

In the past ten years, I certainly knew people who were divorcing. I am embarrassed to say I did do what I could but I could have done much more. I was good at being an emotional support system and listening and meeting them for coffee, lunch or dinner but I didn’t spend a lot of time thinking about their daily lives.

What ride need to be given, what repair needed to be made and on and on.

I’ve been fortunate this year to get much of my life and house back together. Long needed repairs have been done, my tree is adorned and as the classic goes, “The stockings are hung by the chimney with care.”

I am ready for this holiday season but I will admit the past few years many decorations stayed packed away and much less was done. It just wasn’t an easy time and the holidays demand extra physical, financial and emotional energy for the average individual.

Those three buzz words again.

Here are 5 things you can do to bring additional joy to the families of single parents:

1. Deliver a Tree and/or Wreath:

There are now services who send their ‘elves’ to deliver Christmas trees and actually put them up. It may seem late in the holiday season, but divorce and single parenting often will leave solo parents getting their act together much later than the average family.

There are florists who will also deliver wreaths and beautiful floral arrangements and it’s never too late in the holiday season to receive additional gorgeous holiday decorations.

2. Flood the yard with Christmas Lights and/or Decorations:

Nothing makes the holidays more magical than sparkling lights under a moonlit sky. 

Some yards are manageable and holiday lights are easily hung and others are far more difficult requiring ladders and things which make it harder for a single parent to do. Additionally, string lights are just another expense for a parent on their own watching finances.

Kids of all ages will be delighted to find ‘elves’ have come to brighten and lighten their holiday.

Again, something which is not too late to do as these typically stay up and are enjoyed past New Years.

3. Secret Santa meets Being Booed:

We are used to Secret Santa but what about combining with the concept of Halloween Booing?

Just dropping off an unexpected family gift with no sign of who it is from. 

It could be a really cute holiday decoration such as a snowglobe or ornament. It could be a video game with popcorn, It could be a game to be played by the entire family or a football for a holiday game.

Or a stocking for each child filled with goodies or gift cards.

(Footnote: be careful of leaving chocolate with families who have dogs or place it high enough they can’t get it before their family comes home to retrieve the treats)

4. Food and Treats:

For many years, my boys and I would get in the car and bring yummy treats to the homes of our family friends. We would always wait and do this on Christmas Eve day.

Some years it was wine and cheese and crackers, others cookies, others a cute holiday dish with candies.

Again, never too late to get a sweet surprise.

5. Think Holiday Magic:

Children of divorce could use an extra dose of magic around the holidays.

There are so many things which will bring a smile to their faces regardless of their ages.

Carol outside their home, decorate their mailbox, hang ornaments on an outside tree, organize the neighborhood ‘elf’s’ and get three to five people to drop something off every day as a progressive holiday dinner party for the family. One day a ham, the next cookies, and so on.

Take small children shopping to get a last minute gift for someone they love.


There are so many ways to infuse more holiday magic.

And most importantly it’s never too late in the season to do so.

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