There is holiday magic in the air – music and lights, lots of parties and yummy treats! But rather than surrendering to the magic of the season you are feeling a case of the blues.
Maybe you and your husband are separated, or going through divorce. Perhaps your divorce is now final and these will be your first holidays without him. Now what?
The prospect of spending the holidays as a single woman may feel daunting and you’re dreading the whole season altogether. You may be experiencing feelings of depression, sadness, and fear.
How will you get through it all?
Drop the Kleenex, sister, and pick up a pen and paper. I am going to tell you exactly how you’re going to make these your happiest holidays – up to now!
I can honestly say that the first Christmas during separation was the best during my marriage. Rather than staying with his parents, I got to celebrate at my church, eat my traditional foods and bounce around to my favorite music with reckless joy and abandon. It was liberating!
You can do it, too! Let’s get to work!
6 Strategies to Make Your Solo Holidays the Best Ever!
1. Do a Reality Check
Are you romanticizing your marital holidays? Were these holidays so perfect that there was no room for improvement? Really?
Chances are that thinking about it, the holidays were not as ideal as you’d like to remember. We all have selective memories. There surely were aspects of the holidays with hubby that were not so fun.
For me, being alone for the holidays was bliss compared to Christmas with the in-laws. No more 6-hour food extravaganzas, no more indigestion, and I was spared the dinner table catfights with my sister in law.
What did you loathe about the holidays with your ex or soon-to-be-ex? Family dysfunction? Mother in law digs? Bad food? Drama? Cheesy gifts?
Make your list. Check it twice. You can be as naughty as you want and not at all nice! I’m not telling!
Now that you’ve knocked out perfection out of your holidays, it’s time to figure out what your blues are truly about.
2. Do Emotional Inventory
The next thing you need to do is get in touch with your feelings (and then I will tell you how to honor them.)
Pick a quiet spot in a private place. You don’t want to do this at Starbucks for the world to see, because you need to allow yourself to get immersed in your emotions and have an uncensored crying fit if the situation demands.
Quiet your mind and summon props that will get you in holiday mode. Play your favorite holiday music and have a glass of eggnog. Then, ask yourself–what am I feeling now?
Write out all the feelings that come to mind and, when you’re done, think about this… What is triggering these feelings? What are you going to miss the most?
Are you sad because the children won’t be with you? Are you feeling down on yourself because you don’t have a partner? Are you afraid of being alone? Will you miss the family members that are not family anymore? Are you nostalgic because you will have to do without longstanding traditions that marked the holidays–as you knew them? All of the above?
You probably have a laundry list of reasons of your own, so write them all down.
Once you have identified the reasons you are feeling blue, you can create strategies to counterattack each of these feelings.
3. Miss Your Old Traditions? Create New Traditions
A big factor in your feelings is very likely the fact that the holidays will be different from what they used to be. Human beings are averse to change, especially when forced to give up things that are meaningful and cherished.
You may need to give up your old traditions, but you have a golden opportunity to create new and exciting traditions of your own! Your imagination is the limit!
Are there any holiday dreams you have yet to realize? Spending the holidays in another country? In a warm climate with a festive environment? Not having responsibility for hosting a crowd? Spending time with people who are fun?
Rekindle old relationships with friends and relatives and spend time with a different crowd! They will probably be thrilled that you reached out!
4. Miss Your Kids? “Adopt” a Needy Child
Being separated from your children at this time of the year is probably the hardest part of it all. Perhaps you will be splitting their time with your ex or soon-to-be-ex and you will miss having them with you during the entire season.
I understand. That blows! Spending the holidays with your children is a big part of the magic. But the magic will still be there for you to enjoy when you make it your intention to make the best of it!
Volunteer to deliver toys and gifts to less privileged children. “Adopt” a less fortunate family and invite them to your home to celebrate while your children are away. Or offer to bring them presents to brighten up their holidays.
The joy you will bring to them will warm your heart! Take pictures and place them where you can see them and relive the special moments whenever you feel sad!
5. Feel Financially Strapped? YOU Are the Gift!
If divorce has left you in the red and you have little or no money to buy presents, remember that your love and companionship are the most precious gifts you can give to another.
Do something thoughtful for someone you care about. Bake cookies or make a meal. Offer to help with errands. Babysit for a friend or relative who needs a date night.
Spend quality time with your kids and engage in fun activities that will build memories that last a lifetime.
And remember, there are countless people out there who feel abandoned and alone. You can provide them with the cheer that can brighten up their holidays.
Look for opportunities to help the less fortunate. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or homeless shelter. Visit patients at a hospital or a nursing home. Reach out to your local non-profits and seek opportunities to make a difference.
I guarantee you that the experience will transform your life and your holidays forever!
6. Feel Lonely? Celebrate with Friends from Other Faiths!
You don’t have to celebrate your holidays alone. Chances are your friends from other traditions may be free to celebrate with you. Why don’t you throw an interfaith holiday event?
I had no plans for my first Christmas Eve post-divorce, so I hosted a dinner party for my Jewish friends–all men! It was a blast! No expectations, no pressure, just friendship at its best. It doesn’t have to be fancy or involved. If they don’t share your traditions, they won’t have any preconceived ideas of what to expect!
Regardless of your circumstances, remember that you have the power to create your experience. You and you alone get to choose how you feel and how you spend your holiday time. Make the best of it!
May you be happy this holiday season and always! Best wishes to you and yours!
What are your plans for this holiday season? How do you intend to beat the blues?
I’d love to hear from you! Join the conversation and post a comment below.
A version of this article originally appeared on www.soniafrontera.com/blog