The approaching holidays could be something you’re dreading if you are newly separated or divorced. Struggling with a “new normal” is difficult enough without having to tackle holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s Eve and the attached memories these holidays bring. However, holidays happen whether we’re ready or not, so the best way you can deal with them is to develop new coping strategies:
Be positive. Remember the joyful anticipation you had as a child when the holidays were approaching? Try to recapture some of that joy by resolving to maintain a positive attitude, both for yourself and your children.
Begin planning now. If you have finalized your divorce, your divorce decree probably already spells out the details of where the children will be spending each holiday. But that’s not the end of the story. You can avoid undue stress by planning ahead and being flexible. For example, if your children will be with your ex on Christmas Day, plan a fun celebration with them the day before or the day after. Work together with your ex to schedule a time during the holiday itself when you can talk or video chat with your kids without disrupting their time with the other parent. Then plan something you can look forward to on the 25th for yourself — celebrating with other family members or friends, or simply treating yourself to activities that make you happy.
Change things up. Even if you are alone for a holiday, you don’t have to be lonely. Instead of indulging in thoughts of the past, take this as an opportunity to celebrate the way you choose by doing something you’ve always wanted to do.
Develop new traditions. No matter where you are in your divorce journey, it can be difficult to say goodbye to past traditions and start making new ones. But it can be done, and may even turn out better than you ever thought it would. For example, if you’ve had to compromise on the traditions you grew up with to make room for your ex’s holiday rituals, now you don’t have to! Children are fascinated by their parents’ histories, so try developing new traditions around how you celebrated growing up. If you’ll be without your children, host a gathering of similarly situated friends or family members.
As with many things in life, your attitude will dictate whether you enjoy or dread the upcoming holiday season. With a little imagination and a willingness to change, you can look forward to new ways to celebrate your new life.
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