The holidays are just around the corner, and with them we can expect a steady stream of parties, get-togethers, and special moments. For those of us divorcing or recently divorced, this can be a rough time of year. All those special times we associate with the holidays are usually shared with friends, family, and significant others.
Divorce has a powerful way of leaving its influence over the holidays, changing the way we perceive them, and often making them difficult to get through.
Once we have made memories with a significant other, it’s challenging to face special occasions without feeling a void where our ex used to be. Without our ex there to celebrate favorite traditions with us, a holiday just isn’t the same, and we can be left feeling lost, depressed, or dreading a time that should be filled with joy!
Cheery carols and decorations seem to rub salt in our divorce wounds. The rest of the world doesn’t mean to make us feel more isolated and sad as they celebrate and we sulk; but, it can seem nearly impossible to shake the holiday blues following a major break-up.
How do we make the holidays more tolerable during and after divorce ?
1. Re-discover what makes the holidays special. The holidays we used to love didn’t begin or only become special once our ex entered our life. What about the holidays used to make them feel exciting and make us anticipate their arrival in a positive way? It’s time to reconnect with the joyful associations we have to special times and the traditions we found meaningful before our ex was ever part of the equation.
2. Drop the notion that holidays are more special as a couple. Of course, some festive moments, such as a kiss at midnight, have become synonymous with having a significant other to share them with; however, the true meaning behind the reasons most holidays are celebrated have nothing to do with romance or being attached to a partner! There’s plenty of magic to be had for all ages and relationship statuses, so don’t sit on the sidelines and deny yourself!
3. Re-imagine your traditions and holiday game plan. So, you’re used to celebrating with your ex in a very particular way? Old habits are hard to break, but there’s no time like the present to do just that! Break out of your holiday rut and find new ways to mark the occasion, or renew some methods you may have neglected for a while during your time with your ex. You may decide to continue some traditions because they remain precious while purging others that were inspired by your ex or bring up too many sensitive memories.
4. Do a serious decoration overhaul! This is not the time to hang the once treasured “our first Christmas” ornament on the tree or hang a stocking with his name from the fireplace. Perhaps the best place for some holiday relics is in the fire; but, that’s a call each of us will have to make! Some of us will divvy up our holiday treasures with our exes, others will seal those boxes never to be opened again, and still others will use this as an opportunity to start from scratch and do it our own way! Have you always wanted a pink tree and he wouldn’t have it? Go for it!
5. Share your sparkle! Unless some peaceful time to reflect on the past year is what the doctor ordered, there’s no reason to sit at home in a miserable state! Reconnect with family and friends who may not have enjoyed as much of our time during years past. Accept some invitations, and even consider hosting a gathering to surround yourself with love and support. Some laughs and merriment will go a long way to cast off the gloom of divorce and take a step forward into your own new life.
6. Find purpose. Divorce may leave us feeling as though hope is lost and few reasons exist to go on; however, nothing could be further from the truth! If the glitz and materialism of the holidays leave a hollow feeling where joy used to live, consider creating meaning in the midst of melancholy. Plenty of volunteer opportunities exist during the holidays and winter months to help the homeless, disadvantaged children, and many others. You might find the spark you’re missing by helping others!
7. Make peace in the solitude. Some solitary moments during the holidays are inevitable. Eventually the parties and festivities end, the lights dim, and the decorations come down. Instead of feeling gloomy in the quiet moments, try to see the beauty in the silence. This is an ideal time to reflect on what you have been through, set your priorities for the future, and make peace with where life has brought you.
The holidays don’t have to be blue! They will never be the same as they once were, but change is an inevitable force in life, and not necessarily for the worse! The first holidays will be the most awkward as new traditions and routines are established. It may be impossible to completely forget the way it used to be, and that’s okay. The past serves the purpose of helping us become who we are today. Apply the lessons learned from the past, integrate special experiences into the fabric of who we are, and most of all, never stop loving and celebrating life!