Holidays after a divorce are never the same, and if you try to compare them you may become frustrated (although some find them better post-divorce). But from the perspective of a divorce lawyer, holidays after a divorce can be improved or handled with a change of mindset.
These are new holidays. Your world, your children’s world and your ex’s world is different. While there may be traditions everyone liked, it is different. The traditions can remain and some families may still get together, even after a divorce, to share significant holidays. If you can do that, wonderful, but even then you are still creating a new future for you and your kids. Almost certainly the other parent will spend some of the holidays or some portion of the holidays with the kids, which usually means you won’t have that time. Enjoy the time you have with your kids; don’t brood or become incapacitated. You are entitled to enjoy life, and you may well find that holidays without the kids have some benefits. This does not mean you do not love your kids, but you owe it to yourself and to the kids to enjoy your time apart.
Why do I say you owe it to the kids to enjoy your time away from them? Because kids are often torn between parents during the holidays. They may feel a need to be with both parents so that you are not lonely. Let them know you will be fine (you will be), and that they should not feel bad that you are alone or without them.
Start new traditions, like going away for a holiday if you want to avoid the kids feeling like they should pop over to mom’s for a few minutes out of guilt. Do Christmas in the Bahamas or Thanksgiving in the mountains.
Perhaps most importantly, ask the kids what they want. They may want to have friends over. You may think that will decrease your quality time with your kids, and you may be right, but it should be about them. They did not cause the situation that now leaves you with less quality time with your kids, so why should they suffer?
The whole bottom line here is to look towards the future. Shape the future and don’t let the past bring you down. Yes, there may have been good family memories, but you can create new memories that your children will cherish. You can also create new memories for yourself too. Do it, explore, get out there. Divorce can be an opportunity. Whether you wanted the divorce or not, it happened and you must move forward. Why be dragged kicking and screaming into the holidays? Plan them, anticipate them and enjoy them; they are, after all, the holidays!
Randall M. Kessler has practiced family law for almost 30 years and founded Kessler & Solomiany in 1991.