Divorce is a time to start anew with holiday traditions. Have a pizza party and ask your children what rituals they enjoy and what would they like to skip. You may be surprised with their responses. We get caught up in the frenzy of the holiday season and our kids may just want to chill out next to the Christmas tree.
When I was married, I annually threw a big bash for my husband’s colleagues and clients, not realizing what a dent it made in the time I spent with my boys. I tackled holiday rituals as if checking them off a “to-do” list, instead of being totally present in the fun moments with my sons. Now we watch Christmas programs on TV and have quick meals. They ditched making frosted sugar cookies and now decorate a gingerbread house from a kit. This is an example of giving a former tradition a new twist.
How To Build New Holiday Traditions After Divorce:
1. Streamline activities to free up more time for relaxation. Make two types of cookies instead of ten. Some moms go to a “Christmas cookie exchange” where each participant brings a lot of only one type of cookie and everyone goes home with a variety. Keep holiday meals simple, yet elegant. You do not have to cook everyone’s favourite dish, alternate them different years. I cook an already pre-cooked pot roast and do my veggies the night before. Then I actually enjoy Christmas Eve and Day with my small family, and not tethered to the stove.
2. Start new holiday hosting traditions with your family. Alert family members that with your divorce situation, you are unable to host Christmas dinner. Or have it potluck, with you supplying the place, utensils, and hot cider. Perhaps you would be willing to host a family get-together with soup, salad, cookies and board games a few days before or after Christmas. It is hard to say no, but offer suggestions for new Christmas family gatherings.
3. Do free Christmas activities on a tight budget. Go to your city’s tree lighting ceremony or check out Christmas light displays. We go downtown and walk amid the lovely Christmas lights and then get hot chocolate or lattes at a coffee shop which is open late. My sons and I go to a live nativity with a multitude of adorable animals. That church has carollers, cookies, and hot drinks which adds to the festivity.
4. Go on a trip to spend quality time with your kids with the decorating and cooking done by others. We have gotten great prices on a couple of holiday cruises with the 3rd/4th person in the cabin at a nominal rate. The festivities, concerts and scrumptious meals are included and I do not have any cleaning up to do. Cuts down on shopping and wrapping, with only a small gift or two. Even going to a mountain lodge, or a city nearby, makes for a relaxing holiday time with the kids.
5. Realize that you do not have to run around, going to many parties and events, so be selective. I used to wine and dine an older single relative who stayed over Christmastime. I felt torn leaving my kids while taking her to concerts and adult gatherings. Finally I told her that we would be spending the lead up to Christmas doing kid activities and watching family holiday movies on TV. She opted to come for a few days in the summers instead. Turning the focus back onto my kids for the holidays, instead of feeling sorry for her, made Christmastime so much better. Be aware of holiday energy drainers, even if family.
6. Feel free to loosen your standards a bit. Oh well, the floor did not get mopped, but did we ever have fun playing in the snow and watching “White Christmas.” My house pre-divorce looked like The North Pole. Now I put out much less decorations and rotate those different years.
The key to having a memorable time post-divorce with your kids is to get tasks done early. I write the letters and address my Christmas cards on the weekend of Thanksgiving, while watching TV with my sons. I buy presents year round for my sons and friends when I see just the right item. Not only am I getting something unique (possibly one-of-a-kind from a vacation), but it is easier on the budget. I do wait to wrap them near the holiday, so I remember what I bought. Take time out for yourself to try a new spa product or dive into a book.