Learn the 3 S’s of Christmas and How They Trigger Unexpected Emotions for Kids of Divorce

Parenting //

Have you ever heard of the 3 S’s of Christmas?

  • The sights of Christmas.
  • The sounds of Christmas.
  • The smells of Christmas.

Just thinking about walking into my mom’s kitchen brings back fond memories. The aroma of homemade candies and pies flood my mind. And any time I smell cinnamon, it takes me home and it takes me back to the Christmases past of when my children were small. My children and I always drank spiced tea during the holidays. And when my daughter was deployed to Afghanistan over Christmas, guess what I sent in her Christmas package? I sent her a large container of spiced tea which she in turn shared with everyone around her. I’m thinking a lot of military were drawn just a little closer to family back in the states through the smell of Christmas.

While many of us like one or all of the 3 S’s of Christmas, many children of divorce struggle with the sights, sounds and smells of the holiday season. For me the 3 S’s of Christmas help me reflect on happier times in my life when days were spent with family and loved ones, but this is not so for newly divorced families.

Children of divorce may miss the sights of Christmas they were used to before the separation of their parents. They miss things like

  • Christmas lights displayed outside their home
  • Christmas lights strung throughout the inside of the home
  • Nativity scenes set up around the home
  • A Christmas tree lit up and draped with tinsel

They miss the aromas and smells of Christmas past. They may really want to experience the smells at Grandma’s house but this year there will not be any trip to Grandma’s house because mom will not allow the child to go to “that” house.

Even if the parents and grandparents are on friendly terms, it is different when the child goes to grandmas with dad and mom stays home alone.

The happy sounds of jingle bells at the mall and Christmas music being played everywhere only serves to make some children lonely and sad.

These children miss the past. The memories they have worked hard to push to the back of their minds, shine through the divored-imposed fog. These kids don’t know what to expect this year. Many secretly hope the parents will reconcile over the holidays.

Ways to make things a little easier

Encourage single parents to

  • Allow the children to decorate a small tree for their bedroom.
  • Let them put nativity scenes in their room and add items like tinsel or decorations around it.
  • Have a family meeting and ask the children where they want to hang the lights this year. Or if they even want to hang the lights this year.
  • Play Christmas carols and sing along.
  • Try a new candy or cookie recipe.
  • Share some fresh out of the oven treats with neighbors.
  • Read the Christmas story out of the Bible and do it every night for several nights before Christmas.

At church when telling the story of Jesus in a manager, talk about the sights, sounds and smells that were around the baby.

  • The different animals that were in the stalls.
  • The smells of all those animals.
  • The feel of the straw/hay in the manager where Jesus lay.
  • The different sounds the animals made.
  • The bright star that the shepherds followed to find the Christ child.
  • The color on the shepherds clothes.
  • The gifts that were brought to honor the birth of Christ.

Help children to see and know that Christmas is about the birth of Christ. Instead of allowing the 3 S’s to trigger unwanted emotions and memories, help the children create new memories this year at church. Allow this Christmas to be a blessed time in the house of the Lord for children of divorce. And serve them some spiced tea!

What will you do to help the child of divorce enjoy the 3 S’s of Christmas?





About the Author

Linda has been a children’s ministry director, developed DC4K (DivorceCare for Kids, dc4k.org), operated a therapeutic child care, and has extensive experience at successfully accommodating challenging behaviors. She currently serves as the DC4K Ambassador and Professional blogger at http://blog.dc4k.org.