"I have no memories of them being together," she writes, "so my earliest recollections are of spending my two big days with each separately."
It's a situation that millions of other Americans can understand and relate to, at Christmas and most other holidays during the year (not to mention weekends and summer vacations).
Bream continues, "Divorce is a sad event in any kid's life, but for me, I got to enjoy double celebrations of my birthday and Christmas each year. That helped offset the pain of their splitting up." (Her birthday is Dec. 23.)
She found a way to make lemonade out of this lemon, so to speak, especially given the love and care that came her way from assorted family members at Christmas and throughout the year.
Check out this upbeat take in the face of challenge from her much longer essay — and share your thoughts in the comments section below this article.
Read Shannon Bream's story about Christmas, family, and fond memories
Shannon Bream in All American Christmas: I can see now that having two Christmases as a kid has continued, with some variation, into my adulthood, and, just as it was for me then, it's a very enjoyable combination …
Have those merged-family Christmases was very nice, but there were a few years, especially when I was very young, when it was just Mom and me.
She was a young mother, on a very limited budget, and I got used to hearing, "Things are tight this year, and Christmas isn't about presents, and please don't expect anything big, and I love you very much, but we just can't do that this year."
I understood, and it was fine with me, and I was never aware that we didn't have everything we needed. Having a roof over my head, food to eat, and loving grandparents and parents was enough for me.
And we had a lot of fun, too.
So when my mom would say that, I felt sad that she thought she had to lessen my expectations.
That had to be hard for her, and yet, somehow, she always managed to put things under the tree for me.
One year after she'd married my stepdad — I must have been in third or fourth grade — I got something called a Sit ‘n Spin. I’d seen commercials for it on television and I thought, "Gosh, wouldn't that be great!"
And it was!
If you don't remember it, the label on the box says it all. It was a plastic molded seat and pedestal, and you would sit and spin on it, kind of like a home version of the playground piece. I spent hours on that thing, and I believe it was kind of a parent's best friend toy — I exhausted myself on it.
Fortunately, I didn't get dizzy — just tired from all that exertion!
So, yes, money was tight in my childhood years, but I had so many blessings on that complicated family tree.
One of the greatest of those was the relationship I developed with my grandma Nell. She lived to 102, Grandpa Phil lived a good long life to 88, and we were close when I was a kid.
I had a second kind of relationship with my grandma when I got older, and we developed a true friendship. I adored her as a kid and admired her and appreciated her as an adult. As I aged, I was able to talk to her more about her life, the decisions she made as part of a married couple, that kind of thing.
We always went to church together for Christmas and the rest of the year.
Years after Mom and I moved out and we all moved to Tallahassee, we would go to her house every Sunday to pick her up for services at Temple Baptist Church.
Later on, when I was an adult, we'd still do this whenever I went home for a visit.
Grandma Nell always wore a hat for service, and we always sat in the second row so that she could better hear the sermon and the songs.
Regular church attendees knew that was Nell's spot, and we could tell that someone was new to the church if they settled in there.
Grandma didn't mind at all; she loved getting to know guests and new church members.
That church figures into a lot of my Christmas memories of pageants and plays and choirs.