Most of your holiday traditions will fall away during and after your divorce, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy the holidays with your family, children, friends, or on your own.
Here are some tips on surviving Christmas and other holidays without your kids while in a divorce situation. Even if you do not have any children, your holidays will be quite different during the divorce process and post-divorce than they were during your marriage. I purchased several wonderful British magazines, such as Woman and Home, Good Housekeeping UK and Red as a present to myself. After sharing a lovely Christmas morning at home, my two sons left with their father, leaving me with a span of uninterrupted time, which I spent drinking tea and reading these cheery magazines. I sat near the Christmas tree with my cats, and the afternoon without my kids flew by comfortably.
My mother's tip for surviving post-divorce holidays is to work on Christmas. She worked in a hospital and then a nursing home, both being festive places with yummy food and parties. My mother liked my stepmother, so she knew that I was having fun with her family on holidays when I was there during visitation.
Do you have any single friends who get together on holidays? After being married for so long, you may not know what they do at Christmastime or Thanksgiving. What do your other divorced friends do on holidays? Maybe you could all rent a chick flick and have a little spiked eggnog to increase your holiday spirit. Or if your family lives nearby, spend time with them.
Share The Holiday Cheer By Volunteering
Some women get a lot of satisfaction from helping out at a homeless shelter on Thanksgiving and Christmas. Animals at shelters or rescue groups still need to eat or have litter boxes changed during busy holiday seasons. My older son seems to have to do this duty on holidays for his cat rescue group.
There are a plethora of charities that especially need help over the holidays. In the UK a group called Contact the Elderly has monthly get-togethers for elderly people living alone. Their Christmas parties are extra festive, with carols, presents, yummy food and sherry. Some volunteers have formed closed bonds with the aged person assigned to them, and also claim to get a tremendous personal benefit from helping out with this charity. You may want to see what volunteer options are available in your area.
Create New Family Traditions
You can also start new family traditions, after asking for input from your children on what they would like to do. Mix the old traditions with new ones. We have a nice brunch at home on Thanksgiving Day, while watching the Macy's parade. Then we head off to a movie, followed by a simple pot roast dinner at home. We used to go to an over-priced restaurant on Thanksgiving, but now enjoy our new tradition much better.
Be glad that you do not have to attend all of those time-consuming holiday cocktail parties anymore, as you did when you were still married. Just think of the fun things you can do with the kids post-divorce with that extra time. Make a gingerbread house from a kit, bake festive cookies for gifts, eat pizza in PJs and watch"Elf" or "White Christmas."
One divorced friend got me spa products for Christmas so I could pamper myself in peace when my boys went to their father's house. Another newly divorced mother received a best-selling novel and waited until her kids went to their father's to dive into the book.
If you have shared custody, go out of town when your children will be away for a week or two. Friends who have been to the European Christmas markets rave about these trips. Go on a Viking River Cruise in Germany and you will be around many other people during this festive time.
When you are alone on a ship, you are far more likely to reach out to other people and make new friends. As a new divorcee, Kim went on a Cunard Line ship for a Christmas cruise and enjoyed the festivities, holiday shows, food, plus being with the other passengers. It was fun for her to attend a big, black tie bash for New Year's Eve and not need a date.
I have also heard of a few women who have told friends and family that they were going away for the holidays, but really holed up at home, enjoying the solitude.
This article has been adapted from The Women's Holistic Guide to Divorce ©2013 with permission from Sunstone Press.
Wendi Schuller is a nurse, Neuro-Linguistic Programmer, and hypnotherapist dedicated to guiding women through divorce. Her personal and professional experiences have provided Wendi with insight into the benefits of collaborative divorce and mediation, as well as the effects of divorce on children. Her website is: www.womansguidetodivorce.net.