Almost everyone who goes through divorce will have to deal with spending their first holiday season alone. At least as far as being a couple or family goes. For some, it can be a difficult time of year spent reminiscing, but there are ways to get through it without feeling so devastated.
While friends and family know your marriage has ended, they may not truly understand how overwhelming it can be to get through holidays unless they’ve gone through divorce themselves. Instead of watching everyone else around you celebrating, and feeling lost, lonely, or left out, focus on things that can help make the transition easier on yourself.
- Don’t stress about spending on gifts. Things change after divorce, including finances. If you can’t afford to buy the extravagant gifts you’re used to giving, it’s okay. Give yourself permission to get creative. If you can cook or bake, create thoughtful gift baskets filled with goodies made with love. This time of year, everyone loves treats, especially if they don’t have to make them themselves. If you make pottery or are skilled at any kind of needlecraft, make personalized gifts. If you know a particular friend has a new interest, get them something that supports learning it.
- Feel the way you need to feel. Holidays are tough. Everyone puts an emphasis on being happy and joyous when sometimes all you want to do is curl up in a ball and cry or spend some time alone to work things out. That’s okay, as long as it doesn’t reach a point of interfering with your everyday life on a long term basis. If that happens, you may need to seek out counseling to help get you through it but otherwise, you are entitled to your feelings. Just be careful about breaking down when your children are around, if you have them. While it’s okay to see that Mom or Dad is human, your children still have needs and feel that they can rely on you.
- Merge cherished family traditions with new ones. Your holidays can be whatever you want them to be. If your ex had something special he or she enjoyed that you never much cared for, now is the time you can discard it and create traditions to give the holidays your own flair. That old tradition can be carried forward in his or her household at the holidays so if you have children, you don’t have to feel like you’re depriving them. At the same time, if there’s something you really enjoy, keep it or even tweak it a bit.
- Do something special for yourself. You rarely come first when you’re married and have kids. Now that it’s just you and the kids, or just you, do something to make yourself feel good. If you always wanted to volunteer during the holidays but never had the time, now is your chance. Maybe a long weekend getaway to somewhere warm to relax on the beach is your holiday dream. Book it. If you wanted to go nuts with fun decorations but your ex was more minimalist, blast your home with shimmery color. You make the rules now.
- Manage your expectations one holiday at a time. Once Halloween is over, the rest of the year usually becomes one giant blur of holiday parties, shopping, decorating, cooking, gift wrapping, and making plans with family who require you to travel in multiple directions. Something you can now benefit from is that you have the power to stop the madness. Take things one step at a time. If trying to get to every home over a two-day stretch is too much for you, offer to carve out a special day just for you to have a low-key visit. If some family members had to rush off to make it to other gatherings, that’s fine. Do what works for you and maybe even create a new tradition in the process like an after the holidays brunch.
Divorce doesn’t have to be devastating. It can be liberating in many ways once you get a little more comfortable with your new life. The holidays are now yours to spend them as you please, so don’t fret over what was. Celebrate what’s to come and enjoy things in your own way.
And if you do need some legal counsel to help you with your divorce – whether it’s modifying an order or working through the divorce planning – give us a call. Shepherd & Long, PC offers trusted guidance for clients seeking a divorce at any time of the year. Give us a call in Maryville at 865.982.8060, or fill out our contact form.