Manner Monday®: Special Holidays as a Solo Parent

As seen on:
by Carey Sue Vega in Etiquette, Family, Manner Monday, Manners

Today’s post is written by a lady I’ve come to know over the past 8 years as her children have been in class with me.  She is funny, she is witty, and she is amazingly strong.  She became a widow in 2012 and has been navigating the world of solo parenting with incredible grace.  With the Holiday’s fast approaching, I thought her words were not only perfect for solo parents, but for all parents.

I hope you enjoy “Special Holidays as a Solo Parent” by Elizabeth Kay Dyer:

I sat there, no gifts to open. It was Christmas morning, and we had just survived the most difficult year of our lives. Each of my six children had something to open. I did too, but it was little things I bought myself to open. I couldn’t figure out what was making me feel sad about the gifts, but as the day wore on, it dawned on me. Since I was a widow, no one was even around to bring out that last minute surprise gift for me. Even though I bought little things for myself every year, this year felt very different.

As the winter break from school continued, I did a lot of thinking. Ideas swirled around in the empty space where my brain used to be. Like a light turning on, an idea I believe came from God, sprang up and grew as I gave it more time.

What if I let each of my kids choose a holiday to be in charge of getting a gift for me? At dinner one evening I laid my idea out for them. “I want your birthday!” “I will take Valentine’s.” “Hey, I want Christmas!” “I guess I can do Mother’s Day!”

And that is how my plan took flight. I explained to the “crew” that dad was no longer available to take them shopping or show them how to consider what I might like want. They would have to listen to clues I say about what I might like or pay attention to things I appreciate. They have no father on earth now to teach them gift-giving skills so it is up to me to teach them this.

The second year progressed much better than that first year. Valentine’s Day arrived with the teen boy and the pre-teen girl choosing jewelry they thought I would appreciate. My birthday was the next event and the other teen son came up with his own secret plan. He had been helping in the youth room over spring break where he found a lovely framed Bible verse he just knew I would love. And he was right! It meant so much to me that he had to look at an item and ask himself, “What would my mom think of this picture? Could I picture it hanging in our home?” Then came Mother’s Day. The pre-teen daughter used some cash and had her college brother take her to the mall. The last event was Christmas. Were they going to be able to pull it off? Yes, there was a gift (chosen for me, NOT by me) wrapped and under the tree.

I believe this plan has given my children several advantages:

  • they are learning to think about someone other than themselves,
  • they are learning to shop with a limit,
  • they are learning to work together with the siblings,
  • they are planning ahead,
  • and they are learning a skill to take into adulthood.

Don’t just sit there on Valentine’s Day or your birthday, feeling sad because you don’t have a gift to open. Enlist your children, young or old. You do so much for the family — they can certainly give this a little effort for just several days on the calendar. If your children are small, I know your girlfriend or family member would be thrilled to take them to the dollar store to find an item you will treasure for years to come. The point isn’t the amount of money spent on you, the point is their putting in the thought and effort, doing something for someone.

Gift-giving is a skill needing to be taught. Embrace it as you do teaching shoe tying or bed making.

Click to Tweet:  Gift-giving is a skill needing to be taught. Embrace it as you do teaching shoe tying or bed making. #MannerMonday

Liz – thank you so much for sharing your words and your heart with us today!  The skill of gift-giving is something we all need to teach our kiddos. Hopefully your words will help all of us to be more away and have an eye open to help our friends who may be solo parenting and need the extra hand.

Do you know someone who would benefit from this post?  If so, please share it with them and encourage them to sign up to receive Manner Monday?  I would appreciate it!  And if you’re new to Manner Monday, I’d love for you to take a minute to learn more about why I started it. You can click here to read my very first post that tells all about it.

Do you have a ‘manner’ or question you would like to see covered in a post?  Feel free to send me your thoughts, I would love to hear from you.

As always; Thanks for reading!
– Carey Sue

LizDyerAbout Elizabeth Kay Dyer:  Liz is a contributing writer and speaker for aNew Season Ministries. She raises six children (named after biblical characters) in the Oklahoma City area, along with a large black dog (named after a grandfather), a noisy cat (named after a race car driver), and two guinea pigs (named after yummy snacks). She was widowed in 2012 and is learning to navigate life as a solo parent. You can follow her on her ministry page at or her personal blog at Liz is eager to share her story at conferences and retreats, and is available to speak at your next women’s event. Please contact her at


Do you know of a high schooler who would benefit from improved social skills, confidence (the right kind of confidence) and better manners?

We need a few more Adult Interviewers:  if you would like to help us during the mock interviews, please let me know, we would love to have you serve as a roll model for these students.  Your services would be needed on Thursday, November 19, from 6:30-8:30pm.  You will get to meet some amazing young people that will give you encouragement for our future!

Passport Program: 
The Passport Program schedule has been set!  Early registration is available with a $50 savings off tuition:

Word of Mouth is the best compliment you can give us.  Do you know of some who may be interested in our programs, please share our information with them.  Here is the best link to share with them, it covers everything in a nutshell:


Copyright 2022