Separation or divorce marks the end of your current nuclear family and the beginning of your new life. You can and should still enjoy time with family and friends, and right now, you may be looking forward (with pleasure or dread) to your first Thanksgiving after separation or divorce. This family-focused holiday raises so many questions, including:
- Who will I spend Thanksgiving with (this is especially important for people who live near their soon-to-be-ex-in-laws)?
- Will the kids want to spend the holidays with me or their other parent? Do we have to follow our parenting plan to the letter, or can we improvise?
- What if I’m alone on Thanksgiving?
These questions are an important part of the closure process, and will help prepare you for the inevitable changes in your life.
Celebrating “Friendsgiving”: 10 things to be thankful for, and 10 ways to enjoy the Holidays after divorce
This year, consider starting a new tradition of celebrating Friendsgiving. There’s something to be said for friends being the family you choose, as cliché as that sounds. Let’s start with listing 10 things you should be thankful for if you decide to celebrate Friendsgiving this year.
Friendsgiving: 10 Things to be Thankful For
- Reduced travel time to Friendsgiving dinner.
- Avoiding prying aunts or in-laws.
- Not dealing with unhealthy family dynamics.
- Celebrating without drunk uncles.
- Not having to explain why your marriage ended – or listen to advice about how to win your ex back.
- The opportunity to create a new tradition with friends both recent and longstanding.
- Friendsgiving dinner can be potluck, giving you the chance to try new food – and relieving you of the duty of preparing the entire meal.
- Meeting new people if you invite your friends to bring other “Thanksgiving orphans” with them.
- Learning new games like the Gratitude Jar, where everyone writes what they are grateful for on slips of paper and deposits them in a jar; later on, everyone pulls a slip of paper from the jar and reads it out loud. You can download a .pdf with a label for your jar as well as a template for your guests to use.
- Having an opportunity to host if – and only if – you enjoy hosting.
10 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays
Now that you found a new positive outlook on the upcoming holiday, let’s look at ways to actually enjoy it:
- Divorce is expensive, and trying to recreate what was done in the past will keep you from moving forward. Try not to compete with your ex or yearn for what was, but instead focus on what is.
- If you have children, remember to focus on them. Co-parenting during the holidays can be challenging. Do whatever it takes to eliminate their exposure to your emotions and maximize their holiday fun!
- If you fear being alone, plan in advance a trip, a party, or find an opportunity to give back your community.
- Decluttering your house is cathartic – out with the old and in with the new! Use the extra time you have to cleanse your mind by purging, dusting, and redecorating.
- Create new traditions by getting creative and making some of your holiday gifts. Your loved ones will be touched by your efforts, and you will keep busy.
- Be flexible. So what if the rest of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday? Prioritize being with your children and not following the calendar.
- Consider spending the day alone to focus on accepting your new life. Yoga, hikes, or sitting on the beach are all great ways to gain self-awareness and acceptance.
- Be open to still celebrating Thanksgiving with your ex. Who says you have to be enemies? Maybe that was the one time of the year that you got along and have wonderful memories. Enjoy them!
- Make it simple. If you are used to cooking for an army, and this year it’s a small gathering (kids and you), consider ordering pizza and watching movies.
- Get comfortable with splitting the day in half. Maybe your ex-spouse gets the kids for Thanksgiving lunch and you get to spend time with them during dinner.
Whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving this year, find the beauty in your new life, and let negative feelings melt away.