If you’ve been through a divorce recently, you are certainly more than aware of how different (and sometimes difficult) each day can be. This goes tenfold for the holidays.
The first Thanksgiving that you spend away from your ex-partner is bound to be a trying time. A day synonymous with familial joy and “coming together” will naturally seem a little heavy when on your own. Thankfully, there are a few things that you can do to keep the painful memory pangs to a minimum and the glorious gravy enjoyment to a maximum.
Ring in the new
It’s obvious that this day will inadvertently drudge up memories of previous Thanksgiving celebrations. Some of these memories may be quite pleasant, others can be the utter opposite. One way to combat these ghosts is to change things up. By creating new habits for the day and devising fresh traditions, your mind will be focused on the tasks at hand, rather than languishing in previous experiences. One potential benefit, right off the bat, is that if you used to spend the day with your ex’s fam, you’re now entirely free of that shackle. You can visit with your own clan, or a specific group of friends, if you choose. Forget cooking and go out for dinner. Even better, really relish in what the holiday is all about; thank your lucky stars that you have what you have and volunteer at a homeless shelter, doling out seasonal food. Whatever you do, the past customs that you and your ex engaged in will be a faint memory as you create entirely new moments this year.
Granted, this is a time of thankfulness and grateful reflection, but you’ve been through a rough year and can’t be expected to simply grin through the pain. It’s actually the perfect time to pull that special relative or comrade aside and let your emotions flow freely. With the abundance of caring people conveniently assembled, odds are that there will be a trusted someone (or several) that you can talk to. Not suggesting to turn this whole event in a pity party, but go someplace private and unburden yourself. You’ll feel some of that emotional weight instantly lifted so you can fully enjoy the rest of the festivities. Remember, this may be an overwhelmingly hard time for you, but you should be considerate of other people’s feelings too; it’s their day as well.
The Kid’s Table
As with many divorce related issues, the hardest aspect can be if children are in the mix. One thing that can assuage the troublesome topic of how to divide their time (between you and your ex) is to be calm and ready to compromise. Maybe you have to relinquish them for the actual day, but then get to spend Black Friday with them, shopping with glee. The point is that arguing with your ex about who goes where and when will only acerbate the situation and make everyone feel tense. Just be reasonable and think of your kids’ feelings; nobody wants to hear about how mom/dad is ruining the holiday by _______; your ex is still your child’s parent, a pivotal person in their lives forever, and badmouthing them always makes you look bad.
Whether your family is the type that goes around the table before the turkey is cut and everyone states what they are thankful for, or if it’s just tacitly implied, a large component of this holiday is the expression of gratitude. Take a few minutes to sit down and write out (or type) what you personally have to be thankful for this year. Go through everything you can think of, big and small. This simple exercise will soon have you seeing just how bright the silver lining in this divorce cloud is, as a bevy of wonderful things flows from your mind and on to the page. By assessing all of the gifts you have in your life, you can crystalize a plan for the future, or just sit back and revel in the positive mindset you’re now in.
No matter what anyone says, this may be a particularly hard time for you to get through. Try to relax and follow the aforementioned steps to the best of your ability. Just remember that life truly does go on, and once the day is done and everyone has returned to their prospective homes, there still will be the scrumptious leftovers to feast on later.