Co-Parenting on Thanksgiving 

This is it. This is the big show. From here on out can make or break a co-parenting schedule. We got through Halloween and now–bam–Thanksgiving is upon us. As I always say, “As goes Thanksgiving, so goes the year.”

Do you, though? 

Fine, that’s actually something I’ve never said before in my life. But it’s held true for me, so let’s go with it. I’m sure many of you reading these “co-parenting during [insert holiday here]” posts are wondering why it’s even an issue, right? Lots of us have court-mandated holidays and many make do with the every-other-year arrangement. Fortunately, my ex and I didn’t do this. Even more fortunately, we were able to convince his dragon lawyer and her apparent best friend, the judge presiding over our case, that we could make our own holiday schedule, thanks very much. 

We live 20 minutes away from each other, so we decided to King Solomon the holiday and slice it in half. As it has been for the past 5 years, my ex gets our son overnight the day before Thanksgiving until 3 p.m. on Thanksgiving day. From 3 p.m. on, my son is with me. 

Here’s why that works for us

Sure there are plenty of things that don’t work for us, but so far so good on the old Thanksgiving plan. 

Plenty of time for turkey

I’m not sure how other families do it, but the timing of the feast has always been something of a moving target for my mother, the Keeper of the Bird. Knowing that my son will have had his first round of Thanksgiving food before he gets to our house makes the day much less stressful. Dinner could be at 10 p.m. but at least the little guy won’t be as hangry as he otherwise might be. Everyone knows Thanksgiving is all about the meal, and luckily there’s plenty of time in the day for more than one. No one feels like they’ve lost out by not having our son there because we both get him. 

There are enough Thanksgiving traditions to split them

Unless my beloved Packers are playing, football doesn’t really matter to me on Thanksgiving. My ex and son can look forward to that, and my ex always has plenty of people around for Kennedy-style flag football games outside in the yard. Meanwhile, my sister and son love watching the Westminster Dog Show and becoming breed experts for the day. That’s their tradition. And I love the parade–especially watching it from inside my warm house. 

You can rest without shame

Co parenting on Thanksgiving suits my ex and me down to the ground. It’s another wonderful way divorce has balanced out parenting duties. In our brief marriage, I remember begging my ex for “just four hours a week, all to myself” which of course I never got. I’ve got that now! So instead of being worn out all Thanksgiving, I get time to rest and prepare and be my best self for my most-deserving kid. 

There’s time for you

Even after naps, there’s time for my family’s time-honored tradition of watching Hallmark Christmas movies! My son isn’t remotely instersed in this (yet!?), so my mom and sister and I can watch the latest offerings without worrying about my bored son. 

There’s time to make the magic 

Did I mention how important time is to me? You might have picked up on that. The extra time I get on Thanksgiving enables me to gear up for Christmas. I can decorate the house, get the tree, and listen to all my Christmas jams all the while knowing my son is happy somewhere else and not getting annoyed at Mamma’s singing. 

It’s less sad

Thanksgiving is the only day of the year that I wish I had a large family. The other 364, I love that we’re a small group of fiercely loyal and loving people. That said . . . If I had to spend Thanksgiving with only my mother, watching Hallmark Christmas movies (the magic only goes so far) while my son lived his best Abercrombie & Fitch print ad life playing Kennedy-style flag football games outside in the yard with another family who wouldn’t know who I was, I would be quite sad. By splitting Thanksgiving, I know my we all get the best of both worlds. 


There aren’t a lot of great things about divorce itself, but once it’s over, life does get better. And, hard as it is to believe, holidays can get better, too. All it takes is some creativity, problem-solving skills, and two turkeys.