Every Christmas I tend to reflect on past Christmases, especially with the new year approaching. I fondly recall memories and add in some self-reflection. But this Christmasthis Christmas there is so much more to ponder. Because this Christmas is not the same.

This Christmas I decorated an apartment for me and my daughters. Last Christmas I decorated a home I owned with my then-husband.

This Christmas I am watching Christmas movies by myself. Last Christmas I was begging him to watch them with me.

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This Christmas I am planning a 14-hour drive to visit my parents. Last Christmas such a drive involved us taking turns when weary.

This Christmas I am focusing on activities with my daughters and quality time. Last Christmas I was pressured by their father’s need for expensive gifts.

This Christmas I am a single mother. Last Christmas I was a wife and mother.

This Christmas I took down the family pictures on the tree’s ornaments. Last Christmas I had added family pictures.

This Christmas I plan to love on my friends. Last Christmas I barely had friends.

This Christmas I am baking cookies with two toddlers. Last Christmas their dad and big sister joined in.

This Christmas I’ll sip on some wine before the night wanes. Last Christmas I dodged the drunken anger that darkened the day.

This Christmas I am safe and surrounded by love. Last Christmas I was afraid and desperate for love.

This Christmas I grieve the picture in my head of how my marriage and family were supposed to be. Last Christmas I grieved the fights on Christmas Day in front of my children.

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Last Christmas I was eager to fix what was supposed to be the perfect day. This Christmas I am thankful for new beginnings.

And so this Christmas as I consider my annual musings, it feels bitter-sweet. Divorceregardless of the reasonschanges the holiday season. But isn’t that what Christmas is for? In a year where pain and loss have been preeminent, this Christmas, I embrace the undying magic in the eyes of my two little girls.

A.W. Cogent

I am a blessed single and working mama to two little girls, who are 18 months apart in age. I also have a bonus teenage daughter. Vocationally, I am a medical laboratory scientist; however, my favorite hobby is writing, highly influenced by my journey as a mom navigating beyond various traumas in my life. My sole purpose is to reach the one person who needs to know she is not alone.