If you're in a split family, you know that the holidays are the worst. It's just complete crap. Courts come up with the worst agreements possible that please no one. If the parents even agree to something on their own in court, the mediator often still throws in their own cut & paste template that they give to everyone else. Nobody realizes what changed until it's already the end of the day, everything's signed and filed.
Their mom didn't take her 4 "vacation" weeks this year. She saved them all for now. We literally now have had every visit with the kids cut out for the entire holiday season except for 2 days for Thanksgiving and one weekend in December. They're still in school, she's not taking off work... Talk about "vacation." They won't be going anywhere, they won't even do anything special. They leave that all up to us to shove into our short periods of time.
My husband requested one whole week during December to try to make up for it, and thank goodness he had "vacation weeks" left with them. She hasn't denied it, which we expected, so maybe it will happen. During that time, the kids will still see their mom during soccer practices and a soccer playoff weekend. My husband is going to take the whole week off of work just to take care of them. He's excited and will love it. I'm sure they will also get some spoiling that week, because he'll just be so happy to finally be with them on a school week. It will be the most time we've had with them in months, since summer.
And, our allotment of 2 days at Thanksgiving is coming up. We wanted to go out of town to spend time with my family, but we don't think we have the time given how little we see the kids. In the meantime, my husband has not heard from the kids. More specifically, he hasn't heard from his 13 year old daughter even though he's called multiple times to both the kid's phone and their mom's phone. Although court orders say things like parents need to allow communication, the parent that has the kid wins. They don't have to allow anything, and they can lie about it in 15 different ways. They can take away phones, claim the call never made it and they never got the message, or just say they were "busy." Pretty common for those of us with the blended families, and we all have experienced that.
What upsets me more is that it's the holidays, he won't get to see them on Thanksgiving itself, he'll only get 2 days to see them in between 2 "vacation" weeks, yet he hasn't had private, regular, court-ordered communication with them in almost 6 days. He called Saturday, he called Sunday, he sent messages today. He saw one kid briefly at a party, but that definitely does not count as parent-child private communication time. (You'd know if you've ever been to a kid party before.)
It's amazing that this game-playing can go on for so many years. People expect adults to be adults, parents to be parents, and things to normalize after a bit. But more and more, that isn't happening. One ex-spouse can decide to continue the war and keep it alive as long as they believe the kids "should be theirs". And there's no proof, no way to get it to stop. You just continue to lose your children.