Christmas holiday traditions are steeped in family, which makes enduring a divorce during those times, even more challenging. I‘m pointing out Christmas here to not be exclusionary, but as a person who celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas, I can say that during this time of year, Christmas is like an explosion of festivities and for many people, an intense time to be around family. I sort of compare Hanukkah as the laid-back holiday (and truly it isn’t one of the major Jewish holidays), as compared to Christmas, which is a giant rush and major Christian holiday. Heck, there are even many people who are not Christian and who celebrate and embrace the spirit of Christmas. It’s so intensely commercial that for many people, it comes with a lot of pressure.
So for you, the newly divorced or the separated and in the final trenches of divorce, severing your family as you know it during the “holly jolly season” can be even more complicated.
If you’re feeling a bit Grinchy, no one would fault you, but the reality is that Christmas is a brief point in time in which you will most likely, see many people you love, even if it’s not the same as it once was before your divorce. To go through the season and not be able to at least smile a genuine smile for even just five minutes or, just fake it enough to get by, would be a darn shame.
I’m not telling you to pretend all is okay exactly, but I am telling you to pretend a little, for a few good reasons:
Knowing how hard it is to stay positive when you’re feeling alone and depressed, here are a few tips I have to help you put on that happy face this Christmas, no ho-ho-ho’s necessary. That’s just too much!
When you feel ready to have a blue, blue Christmas, consider your kids. Instead of dissolving in tears, ask them to make a list of holiday must-do’s together, and get together to embrace those traditions. Maybe it’s making cookies. Maybe it’s volunteering somewhere. Whatever the case, dive into whatever your kids are requesting, and save the tears for when they’re sleeping. They have to come out somehow.
Take a night off from the kids or even two hours, and go do something for you, even if that’s just holiday shopping or going to the library by yourself.
Take a break so you can feel slightly refreshed when you come back. That time off from the kids is also an “okay” time to have that grimace on your face. It will make it easier for you to come home smiling.
Write down 3 positive mantras and repeat them to yourself 10x upon waking up, and when going to bed.
It will feel weird at first, but after a while, you may start to believe your own thoughts. It’s amazing how powerful our mind is. Our thoughts often become our realities. Change your perception.
When you want to scream, cry and pout, just pull out that list of “pros” of your divorce. Make a screenshot of them. Put it on your phone. Put it by your bedside. When you feel lonely, financially stressed or worried about the future, look at this list.
When you are feeling like a big puddle of melted Frosty the snowman thanks to tears and heartache, call your friends.
Text your family. Go to church. Synagogue. Yoga.
Talk to someone.
This too shall pass, I promise.
Sometimes, you’ve got to buck up and get it together for your time with the kids, at work and whoever or wherever else, even if you don’t want to.
A fake smile is better than isolating yourself and making your kids worry about you.
A fake smile is better than having your boss ask why you’re crying at your desk or out of work, again.
A fake smile isn’t perfect, but sometimes, you have to.
Last but not least, remember that Christmas is technically the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, and not the holiday where people get engaged, fall in love, buy each other BMW’s and expensive gifts, and meet a sexy stranger at the grocery store. This is just what movies, Hallmark, advertisers and pop music wants you to believe.
I am not trying to say you should be religious. What I am trying to say is to keep in mind the reason for the season and to decrease the pressure you may be putting on yourself. Many people have stressful holidays and feel lonely at this time. You are not alone in your feelings. But when it comes down to it, after all the holly jolly, splashy flashy and dizzying celebrations, decorations and festivities are over, life keeps going.
And so do you. So girl, pick yourself up and get back up again, even if you fall repeatedly. A New Year is upon us, and what a great time to embrace a fresh start and a divorce!
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