Holidays – what once may have been a Norman Rockwell family week of celebration, twinkle eyed children, good food, fun, peace and joy can become the most dreaded week of the year after a breakup or divorce. What once was, is no longer, and you are now left with the daunting task of slapping on a happy face for children, friends and family while trying not to lose it over the Holiday week. We put together a list of tips to help you navigate this treacherous time of year and hopefully even enjoy it.
- Say no, not to everything but to any gathering or event that breathes sheer terror into you. If your neighbor Shelia has her annual get together where it’s all couples and you are sure you are only still invited because they want to hear the gossip of your relationship demise, say no. If a church service is filled with people who will inadvertently put their foot in their mouth by asking what happened to your spouse, say no. If your family is expecting you to roll out three course meal for the Holidays and you just can’t afford it or you don’t feel like doing it, just say no. You are under no obligation to do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable this holiday season. Learning to say no is one of the healthiest things you can do to move forward in your new life.
- Try new things, why? because it is good for you, find a new group, new hobby, new friends. Not everyone is coupled up and being single has a lot of upsides during a holiday. No awkward partners family gatherings. No partner to try to impress with gifts (buy gifts for you instead). You get to put on anything you wish, go anywhere you want and talk to anyone you choose. One of the biggest things I hear from divorcee clients is that they wished they had made more use of their time being single. I am sure there are things you always wanted to do, well now is the time to do them. You will be surprised at how empowering it is to get comfortable being alone and doing things alone.
- One of the biggest challenges at the holidays is family time, I like to think families are all a little crazy, but the holidays are certainly known for escalating that. Family members can be cruel, judgmental, mean or just insensitive to your newly single status and how hard it really is to navigate your first holiday season alone. The very best way to deal with this is to give them the benefit of the doubt and ignore them. Maybe they don’t think, or don’t understand but whatever the reason, try to let words roll off you as you know in your heart you are doing the best you can.
- Have fun creating new traditions. Whether it is with a friend group, your family or most importantly your children, now is the time to start creating new traditions. Whether it is something small like creating a new Christmas Eve movie, hot chocolate and bedtime ritual, or bigger like taking a few days to get away and unwind over the holidays-new beginnings can be exciting and joyous. I totally revamped Christmas dinner into a more manageable menu creating a far more enjoyable relaxed Christmas Day for us all, sometimes less really is more.
- Don’t go broke, chances are your newly single status came with a few hefty bills. You would be surprised how many people understand when you just tell them. No shame in that, “no Sally I can’t do a secret Santa this year”. “No family I won’t be able to get you all gifts this year”. Sometimes just saying it out loud is a big relief for you but also your family, who are probably concerned you are overwhelmed from the year. I don’t ever remember times people did or didn’t give me gifts over the holidays, I only truly remember spending time and making memories with them. Children too can understand there is limit to what you can give, spending time with them, doing things, making crafts, baking cookies- the holidays can be filled with many beautiful gifts, just not the kind you need to wrap.
Whatever you choose to do or not do this Holiday season know that it’s just a few days of the year, take a deep breath, this too shall pass. Take advantage of the change to try new things and remember that having you be healthy and happy is the best gift you can give your family or children each Holiday season.