The stockings were hung by the chimney with care… and I was on the couch crying on Christmas Eve.
This was the first time I had been away from my kids for any holiday. I thought I had done pretty well up to this point. We had made the Christmas cookies a little earlier than usual. We had used all the icing for the gingerbread houses and gotten a sugar high eating more candy than went on the houses about a week before.
The tree was up and I didn’t have to stay up super late to make sure Santa came down that chimney. I had declined a number of invites to be with family and friends on this night that in the past had been reserved for family and friends. That was my first mistake.
So as I sat there in the midst of a post-divorce holiday meltdown, I took a deep breath. I looked at my options. I could continue to sit here and belly up to that pity party table I had set or I could do something about it. At the time of the holiday invitations I'd received, I had no desire to sit and watch all their happy family traditions while I was breaking down inside. Yet there I was, feeling a whole lot lonelier sitting on that couch looking at the tree twinkling at me - mocking me if you will.
It was still early enough in the evening that I could wash my tear-stained face and get all gussied up to join one of the festive events. I could be fashionably late! And as I thought more about this option, the more sense it made. So I did just that: got my sorry butt up off that couch and started getting ready to "Ho Ho Ho" with others.
The holidays don’t need to be stressful or used as an opportunity to feel sorry for yourself. While it’s easy to fall into that thinking, don’t let those somber thoughts ruin the holiday spirit. All those invitations from loved ones? Accept them! Thinking that maybe you should try something different this year that you’ve always wanted to do for the holidays? Do it!
If money is tight and you can’t afford to jump on a plane to some hot sunny destination, then plan one in your own living room. Who says you can’t have umbrella beverages at Christmas time? Plan a party that signifies where you would go if you could. Research the traditions of celebrations of that particular area and plan accordingly. Be prepared that not everyone will be able to make the celebration because of family obligations, but have some fun with it.
One of the best things I ever did was search for others in my situation. Meetup.com is an excellent resource for this. You plug in your interests and the site finds others in your area that share your passions. Keep in mind that you are not the only one that is going through this. You really are not alone. You may have to do a little work though to find others, but they are out there.
Maybe a little solitude is exactly what you need. Don’t discredit this option either. A hot bubble bath, a glass of wine and a good book may be the cure you need. Don’t use this as a fallback option, though. Plan it all out, right down to the last detail. What scent will you use in the bath? What book would Santa bring you if you put it on your list? Treat yourself to a new silky robe to put on after the tension has been melted away in the tub. Will you put that soothing background music on or just enjoy the quiet? Candle light to enhance the relaxation mood? Make this evening about you and your needs!
Can’t sit at home because that tree is dragging your thoughts down? Then head out. Many city centers have areas decorated with the sights and sounds of the holidays. Take yourself on a date to experience these. Really open your eyes to the wonders that your area offers. A quick google search of events happening in your area will open up some opportunities you never experienced before.
Don’t leave all of this to the last minute though or you might find yourself crying to Silent Night. Even if you think you are OK, you don’t know if all those emotions will hit at some point over the festive season, so have a backup plan for when you feel that lump forming in your throat.
The season is for celebrating, so make sure to leave those post-divorce holiday blues behind.
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