It’s not easy. Some traditions aren’t going to be traditional any longer. You may be struggling with how to get through the list of Holidays without depression or anger. Here are 5 things that will help.
1. Plan Ahead! You don’t want to be picking up a turkey sandwich on Thanksgiving or sitting alone on Christmas Eve. The first step is that, hopefully, you spelled out the details of Holiday visitation with the help of your divorce attorney. If you have a plan in place, you know when you’ll have the kids and when you won’t. Use that “calendar” to make your plans. There is nothing stopping you from celebrating Thanksgiving on Friday and Christmas on the 22nd. If you’re going to be alone. Reach out. Friends – and, even, family – may not realize you are alone. Let them know and the invitations will follow.
2. Make Gift Giving Easier. Divorces usually come with a change in finances. That can only be made worse if you and your ex engage in a contest to see who can give the biggest gift. If you’re on friendly terms, discuss giving that one big item jointly. That does away with the competition and shows the child that both parents can still be “partners” at a different level. If that’s not going to happen, consider a gift from the heart. Make a scrapbook or photo album. Give your child the necklace that belonged to her grandmother or give him grandpa’s pocket watch. Giving an experience that is fun for both of you – a trip to the theater or dinner at a favorite restaurant followed by a movie – is another good plan. It’s a present to both you and the child.
3. Be Positive. You can start a new tradition. Maybe you exchange the Christmas Eve huge dinner for one of the many Holiday movies and a stop at McDonald’s. Your celebration should be about enjoying the here and now; not mourning for the past. Don’t rule out inviting your ex and his or her family if you can be agreeable. Watching the children open their gifts from Santa or walking the neighborhood to trick or treat might still be things everyone can enjoy together. Remember, the Holidays are a time to be thankful – thankful not just for ghosts and goblins, but for all the blessings in your life. Tackle the season with a smile.
4. Take Care of Yourself. There is always Holiday stress and the divorce may have increased your personal stress. Be proactive about taking care of yourself. Join an exercise or yoga group. Eat healthy. Watch out for too much caffeine or alcohol. Get a good night’s rest. Feeling good will help you feel good about the season.
5. Expect Change. Your expectations of the Holidays will change and the Holidays will change. Loneliness can also be changed. Make the best plans you can with your family and friends. If there are still empty hours, fill them with something you love or get the heart-warming experience of helping at one of the many charities who cater to the homeless and disadvantaged during the season.
Make the season as easy as possible – during the divorce. If you have a divorce attorney or a family law lawyer, make sure that you include Holiday visitation in your divorce agreement. It will be a huge help if you know who is going where when and it gives you the foundation you need to create happy, new traditions.