Thinking about the holiday season can be a daunting experience when going through a divorce. While it is only October, we understand the apprehension of facing the upcoming season of cheer when you are feeling anything but cheerful. Divorce is an extremely personal and emotional experience, and there is no right or wrong way to feel – but you are not alone, and the holidays, while different, do not have to be a dreaded occurrence.
Here are some tips for finding enjoyment from the holidays, or at the very least getting through them.
1. Get Out: While your first inclination may be to hibernate for the winter, resist the urge. Even though it’s cold outside, you need your vitamin D and a little fresh air. Spend time with friends – they are sympathetic to what you are going through, but also just enjoy your company and while “laughter is the best medicine” sounds cliché, it definitely can’t hurt.
2. At the Same Time, Set Limits: Be vocal about what you need, and don’t apologize for needing it. Going through a separation or divorce is not an easy time, and you need to do what you need to do for yourself. Your family and friends love you and want to help, but while they have the best intentions, sometimes they may not be what you know you need at the moment. It’s okay to put your foot down.
3. If you have Children, Keep and Make New Traditions: During a divorce, children experience many changes as well. Holidays are often full of traditions, whether it is baking holiday cookies or checking out neighborhood decorations. As much as possible, maintain traditions – but also start new ones. A special outing between a parent and child could be a yearly occurrence, and will come to be anticipated and cherished.
4. Shop Online: Many people do this anyway, because even those not going through a divorce will sometimes want to avoid the onslaught of holiday “cheer” oozing out of every mall and shopping center. If the crowds are too much to handle, pour yourself a glass of cider and power up your laptop. No lines, no crowds and usually tons of sales.
5. Turn off the TV: Throughout the holiday season we are bombarded with made-for-TV movies about the spirit of the season, and these films are usually poorly acted, corny, romantic soap operas that are about as realistic as getting struck by lightning while holding the winning Power Ball ticket. At other points in life, we are usually able to brush these films off as such, but during a divorce when emotions are high, it may be best to avoid them altogether.
Ultimately, each person will find their own way to make it through this difficult time. Remember, it will be over soon enough. And after January 1st, it is a new year and a fresh start.