They were all bundled up with big smiles on their faces. Stepping out of her chaufeured SUV onto a sidewalk in freezing midtown Manhattan, Angelina Jolie accompanied four of her six kids to a National Geographic exhibit in Times Square on Dec. 14.

“Angelina started Christmas vacation early,” says an insider, explaining that the NYC visit was part of a holiday shopping trip. “The Pitt-Jolie family has always loved New York at Christmastime — the ice-skating rink in Central Park, the amazing store window displays along Fifth Avenue. And she’s planning more trips with the kids in late December and early January.”

Meanwhile, their dad, Brad Pitt, is doing everything he can to squeeze in some time with his brood, too. Last year, he got just a few hours with his younger kids on Dec. 25, and this year he’s hoping things will be different for the holiday season and beyond.

angelina jolie kids - getty

(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

“He’s champing at the bit to get more custody [of Maddox, 16, Pax, 14, Zahara, 12, Shiloh, 11, and twins Knox and Vivienne, 9]. His Christmas wish is to have equal custody,” the insider exclusively tells In Touch. “But at this point, the divorce is still stonewalled, and Angie has been talking about taking the kids away to a foreign country for Christmas.”

It’s been 15 months since their shocking split, and “Angie and Brad are still playing tug-of-war with their kids,” a source tells In Touch. “Because they’re not officially divorced yet, Angie’s in the driver’s seat when it comes to getting the children for the holidays, and she’s taking full advantage of that.”

He misses them so much. “The holidays are Brad’s favorite time to be with the kids,” says the insider. “He’s out to try to get as many days as possible with the children over the Christmas week, having dinners and fun times at his LA home, which is not even a mile from where Angie and the kids are living.”

But Angelina, 42, continues to keep him at arm’s length. “She’s still bitter and angry,” says the source, noting that they were arguing constantly in the days leading up to Dec. 25 last year. Brad, 54, “is trying to play nice, but every time he asks Angie for something concerning the kids, she shoots him down. It’s contentious, to say the least.” He’s tried to move things forward legally as well. But, “She’s fought him every step of the way on the divorce he so desperately wants,” adds the insider.

Brad is desperate. “He’s doing whatever it takes, whether it be begging, pleading or cajoling Angelina to make it happen,” says the insider. “It’s not easy. But he feels if he’s earnest, caring and demonstrates how the children need their father, Angelina will allow him some quality time alone with the kids and maybe even entertain negotiations on the divorce. That’s what he’s hoping for.”

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