Like most holidays you mark with a greetings card, there’s not a lot of thought given to the humble single parent at Christmas (despite Mary and Joseph being the original blended family).
We are often expected to smile at the nuclear representations of families in seasonal adverts and festive films as we purchase overpriced tickets for events with Santa because there’s no one-parent-family option available, all while trying not to cry every time Wham’s Last Christmas comes on the radio.
But in my second year as a single mum, Frolo came through with a Christmas miracle. I have been lucky enough to meet a stunning array of Frolo single parent pals while using the app and as we reached early autumn 2019, our group messages turned towards plans for Christmas.
I expressed my fears about it being my first without my son, and my darling friend Ellie said she was in the same boat. Ellie and I actually met at the first ever official Frolo meet up and I’ve been fortunate enough to call her a friend ever since. She’s one of the most resilient humans on the planet and her smile lights up any room.
A few weeks later we discussed joining forces on the 25th December, to avoid feeling empty at traditional family Christmasses without our little loves. Initially we thought about escaping to a Norfolk cottage or a secluded AirBnB, but difficult exes and hectic work schedules meant that we eventually settled on an easy South London Christmas at my former flat. High on the list of priorities were good food, plenty of wine, kitchen dancing and Christmas movies that avoided soppy romance entirely (shout out to Die Hard, the gift that keeps on giving).
We front-loaded our pre-Christmas weeks with our kiddos and by the 23rd were both childless and emotional, texting each other strategies on where to get the fanciest food at the cheapest prices and counting down the hours until we could both switch on our out-of-office.
We spent Christmas Eve in a crowded bar where the barmen were showing off some interesting dance moves while smashing giant slabs of ice. It was bizarre, it was hilarious, we were both totally here for it. After getting a little tiddly, we took a midnight chariot/Uber home and retired to await Santa’s spoils. If we weren’t both on the nice list this year, there would be hell to pay.
On Christmas morning, we had lovely lie-ins and exchanged small gifts over smoked salmon, scrambled eggs and mimosas (start as you mean to go on, right?) We FaceTimed our kids and though I thought we might both have a wobble after we hung up, knowing you had someone with you who was exactly in the same boat made it far easier to get through the day. We didn’t even really need to explain how we were feeling, we both just knew.
The great thing about a Frolo Christmas is that you have complete freedom to do exactly what you want, when you want, without having to worry about pretending to love naff gifts, building complicated toys or listening to Uncle Alan’s latest political rant.
Instead, Ellie and I put on a cheesy Christmas playlist and plotted out the day’s cooking. The fizz and conversation kept a-flowing and we spent hours concocting a gravy that had about 37 ingredients and was one of the best I’ve ever tasted. We ate heartily and, when we’d run out of chat, turned our attention to Bruce Willis and his tight, white vest.
The next day we parted ways and packed for the next phase of Christmas celebrations, building each other up before tense handovers in train station car parks.
It was truly one of the best Christmasses I’ve ever had and I would urge any Frolo parents who are child-free this year to get a group together for food and good times.
My Frolo journey has been something of a novel in itself, and this year – to my utter surprise and amazement – I got married. But once a Frolo, always a Frolo and I am still a dedicated part of the community whose DMs are always open for anyone who needs a rant about the joys of coparenting (I promise it gets easier!)
There are loads of meetups and events listed on the Frolo app so if this is your first Frolo Christmas, come join the fun. Frolo friendships are some of the most rewarding you’ll ever have and I’m yet to feel anything but accepted and supported by this community.
If you’re afraid the most wonderful time of the year will be anything but, gather some Frolo pals together and rewrite the Christmas rules. Happy holidays, everyone x
Guest blog by Sally McIlhone
Head over to the Frolo app now to book your spot on a festive meetup. All welcome!