Single parenthood might be increasingly common (the most recent census data found that 8.5 million sole-parent families with kids under 18 are overseen by a mother, while 2.6 million are lead by single dads), but that doesn't make it any less challenging—especially around the holidays. As a mom pointed out in a post on the Parenting subreddit, entitled "A single mom's Christmas Eve," celebrating the holidays as a single parent means missing out on certain gifting traditions.
Writing under the handle Octomoosemiester, the original poster (OP) wrote that she's "never been huge into Christmas," but then her daughter was born. She split with his father when her daughter was still a toddler, but "the excitement of Christmas stayed."
"One of my favorite things about Christmas is the stockings," the OP noted. "I just love the little gifts and candy. The only downside is, you can't really stuff your own stocking. I mean, sure you can, but that takes the fun/magic/whatever out of it."
This year, Octomoosemiester and a friend were shopping and talking about stocking stuffers. "I made a comment that I loved stockings but never got one because it would be weird to stuff my own," the OP recalled. "I could take my daughter to buy things for me and have her do it, but 'Santa' always does the stockings so I don't think that'd go over well."
On Christmas Eve, she went to stuff the stockings and realized that hers had already been done. "I thought for sure kiddo had put notes or something in which is something she loves to do," Octomoosemiester shared. "Nope! There was candy and small wrapped gifts and socks. I sat there crying happy tears and immediately texted my friend. She had been taking care of my dog the weekend before and must have snuck in the stocking stuffers."
The OP concluded that she "doesn't like to admit how hard the little things are when you are a single parent. It feels stupid, but those little gifts meant the world to me. Can't wait till kiddo gets up and we open our stockings. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and happy holidays!"
The heartwarming post was met with many supportive comments, many of which sung the praises of single parents.
Elmosfriend wrote, "Sounds like your friend is Mrs. Claus! So glad she surprised you. You are a super hero. Please know that I admire and respect what you and other single parents do every single day."
A fellow single mom named Wolflady4 shared, "My tradition was to put Xmas cards in the tree and open them when my kids were opening their gifts. It gave me something to open and made me feel less lonely to hear from loved ones that I couldn't afford to visit. My eldest is almost 18, and I still do this. It's become my own personal tradition. I also buy myself something guilt-free for Xmas. No one else is going to buy me gifts."
A Redditor named Insida wrote, "My mom and her two best friends have a tradition every year that they do each other’s stockings. They’ve been doing it as long as I can remember, and continue to this day via mail. I highly recommends tradition like this!"
The OP eventually updated her post to thank her fellow Redditors for their kind words and stories. "It's hard out there for all parents, and I'm thankful to have a support system I've built out of friends that love me and my daughter," Octomoosemiester shared. "When I saw my friend today, I almost cried again and gave her a huge hug."
What a sweet reminder that, when it comes to facing the hardships of parenthood, especially solo parenthood, there's nothing like a supportive, cherished friend.