November 16, 2017

Divorce and the Holidays-Different But Also Perhaps Wonderful

Thank you to RJ Media for publishing the following article in the November 9, 2017 Cheshire Citizen.

Holidays can be miserable times for a divorced person and even worse for a recently divorced person.  It may be easy to feel sorry for yourself and to blame your former spouse for your loneliness and unhappiness.  Making it worse, you may even lack the motivation or energy to leave your home.

It doesn’t have to be that way.  Although it may be difficult, you can to choose whether you will hide from holidays or turn them into something positive and fulfilling.  Here are a few tips:

  • Accept that things will be different – but different doesn’t necessarily mean bad.
  • Focus on others rather than yourself, whether it is your kids, out of town family members you weren’t able to visit when you were married, the members of your congregation or even strangers. It’s more difficult to be sad when you are trying to make others happy.
  • Create new traditions. There are an infinite number of ways to celebrate a holiday.
  • Appreciate the positives in your life. There are certainly people worse off than you are.

Take James for instance.  Under his divorce settlement he had his children on alternating Thanksgivings.  This year was his former wife’s turn.  James expected to spend the holiday alone and depressed.  Then a co-worker told him about a local church that needed volunteers for its Thanksgiving dinner program.  Somewhat hesitantly, James appeared at the church early Thanksgiving morning.  Before he knew it, he was working with other volunteers packing turkey and stuffing meals into his car for delivery to housebound seniors.  He found satisfaction in the joy that the seniors found in his visits, which often were more welcomed than the meal.  After that experience he couldn’t imagine wanting to doing anything on Thanksgivings more than working at the community dinner.  When it was his turn for Thanksgiving with his children he and his children helped out.  A new tradition was born.

Or consider Angela.  For the first Christmas after her divorce Angela was preparing herself for a lonely Christmas when she opened a greeting card from a childhood friend who recently lost her spouse.  Thinking how lonely her friend must be, Angela called and offered to travel to share Christmas with her friend.  The tradition now is for the two to spend every Christmas together, alternating homes, each bringing new spouses and children into the holiday celebration.

A divorce does not doom you to lonely and miserable holidays.  While it may not be easy or effortless, you can choose to take advantage of opportunities to make the holidays rewarding and satisfying.  Look to your network of friends and family members for others who will benefit from your attention.  As an alternative, local social service agencies can help you find activities that will allow you to make a positive difference for others and for yourself.


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