By Laura Lifshitz
Okay, so you’re divorced and now you’ve got to figure out the holidays…on your own or with the kids. It can take adjusting. Missing your ex (or maybe not!). Missing your ex’s family unless you still see them…or also, maybe not. Sharing your kids. Being alone. Less money. Being single.
It’s not surprising if you’re already feeling a little grinchy and not so spirited. But—and here is the challenge—even if you don’t have your kids…they’re watching you before they walk off to the other parent’s home. So you’ve got to shake off the holiday blues and make different memories and traditions that they will love, and so will you.
Or in other words, your divorce is not a death sentence. It just means some adjustments have to be made for you to find a new happy normal! Here are some holly jolly ways to create new traditions at the holidays after divorce.
1. Assemble a Crew
If you’re going to be alone or with the kids, create a crew or list of people you can join at the holidays. Literally. Maybe it’s your work bestie you join to go see some Christmas lights. Or maybe it’s your neighbor you head to temple with for Hanukkah festivities or church on Christmas. Write down everyone you think would like to include you or do something with you or you and the kids at the holidays, and then, start reaching out.
You will most likely find that over time, these gatherings will become habits. That’s how it has happened for me. Each Hanukkah, my friends and family join us to celebrate. At Christmas if I am alone, I join friends. If I have my daughter, we join others. It’s a routine that has been created because I assembled a crew and asked people!
2. Get Creative
Can’t take your kids to the big holiday shows around town due to less pay? Are those mall Santa photos draining your wallet? (They’re seriously overpriced!) Get creative and find other activities you can do and make as cheaper traditions.
Think local high schools for holiday shows. Google for town Santa appearances, like your local firehouse. Invite friends over for a cookie bake. Have a potluck New Year’s and buy some cheap wine. Hey—it’s New Year’s Eve. It doesn’t matter if the wine is expensive or not…it’s all about the company and the love!
Get creative. Your wallet may be slim but your brain hasn’t grown more “dim” since your divorce. Being resourceful after divorce is an absolute must, must, must anyway, no matter what time of the year!
Not having the kids on New Year’s? Celebrate the weekend after complete with “kiddie cocktails” and treats!
Not having the kids on Christmas? The day after can be Christmas too. Invite family and friends over if you like. It’s not the day on the calendar that matters, but the moments you carve out that you do have with your kids. I know that this year, we’ll be doing Christmas January 2nd.
Am I thrilled? No, but it’s how it is for this year. Next year, she’ll be with me.
4. Reach out to the Divorced
Your divorced peeps are your best allies at this time. If any of them are alone, make a pact to come together. And if they’ve got their kids and you don’t, reach out and ask to join them. You can return the favor one day when they don’t have their kids and need company. Think of it as your other family. You need your divorced crew!
5. Switch it Up
Do your old traditions make you weepy? Well, we can’t be having that now can we?
If certain old traditions are too painful to partake in, cut them free for now. Tell your kids you’d like to switch it up and try something new and fun. Ask their opinions. Ask what they would like to do that’s new. You can revisit those old traditions when you feel emotionally ready. If there are some traditions your kids absolutely can’t bear to part with and you can do them without your ex, try it. For them. Isn’t always about them, anyway?
6. Make the Call
Did you always want to do a major Santa train ride and your ex couldn’t stand the crowds and noise? Now is the time to make the call to do the traditions you simply couldn’t before. I guarantee that if you dig deep, you’ll be able to find a few that now, you can do alone or with the kids.
7. Avoid the Funeral
Please, don’t completely retreat if you don’t have the kids. You are not dying. Everyone is here. They’re just not with you and yes, it sucks.
I am in that boat this Christmas and I can admit that it feels crappy. However, figure out some way to make you feel better even if it’s not holiday-ish. Maybe it’s a bubble bath. An eighties movie day. A visit to a college BFF. A nice fancy schmancy dinner that your kids would never eat.
Whatever you choose, don’t mourn so hard that you hurt inside and outside.
About the Author
Laura Lifshitz is a pint-sized, battery-operated writer, comedienne, single mother and chocolate fanatic. A former MTV personality and Columbia University graduate, you can find her work in many places, like the New York Times, DivorceForce, Mom.Me, Women’s Health, Worthy, Working Mother and numerous other sites. Follow her on Facebook and her own website, frommtvtomommy.com.