The holidays are supposed to be a warm, fuzzy time of the year, complete with fragrant Thanksgiving turkeys, yummy pumpkin pie a la mode, twinkling Christmas trees and soft stockings hung on the fireplace. A recent divorce can make these happy moments practically unbearable, though, especially if there are children involved. Like it or not, you’re going to have to find a way to handle the holidays post-divorce without losing your mind. These tips may make it a bit easier to get through the “happiest” time of the year.
Create a New Routine
It’s not possible for your kids to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with both you and your ex (unless you’re on amazingly good terms, which you’re probably not). Whoever has the little ones on the real holiday can keep the traditions basically the same. For the parent who doesn’t have the children on the actual holiday, though, new traditions should be created. Pick an alternative holiday date and create a whole new routine – one they’ll look forward to every year moving forward. Also, do yourself a favor and plan this all out as far in advance as possible.
Go It Alone and Fight the Loneliness
Get comfortable with the idea of spending a holiday – or two – alone. Trying too hard to make a holiday something it’s not could leave you feeling more out of sync than you already do. At first, spending Christmas with a group of almost-strangers in a beach house sounds great, but it could end up feeling forced and unnatural. Remember, alone doesn’t have to also mean lonely. When you do get tired of hanging out with yourself, do the things that you already know make you feel good. Spend time with your closest, most supportive friends, volunteer at a local animal shelter, visit family members who appreciate you, etc.
Expect to Feel Sad
Sometimes the surprise of rising emotions is worse than the emotions themselves. Be straight with yourself: you’re going to feel sad, mad and bad at some point during the holiday season. If you know it’s coming, it’ll be easier to weather the down time and you won’t feel out of the ordinary for having these very natural responses.
“Spring cleaning” is a misnomer – you can clean house any time of the year. The holidays are a great time to do a deep cleaning on your home, organize the mess and get rid of anything that’s causing clutter, both literally and emotionally. Getting rid of the old and making room for the new is refreshing and cathartic.
Do It Yourself
One of the quickest ways to brighten your day is to be kind to someone else. When it comes to Christmas shopping, don’t spend your savings on gifts. Instead, make some presents yourself. This is beneficial for two big reasons. First, you’ll distract yourself with all of your crafty projects. Second, you’ll feel even better about yourself after putting a personal touch into all the gifts you’re giving.
by Elyssa K. Williams – Metro Atlanta Divorce Attorney