Most Americans are very aware of how close we are to Christmas. Some are counting down the days because they can’t wait to open presents. Others are counting down because they still need time to buy all their presents. And still others are dreading the entire holiday season and want it to be over as soon as possible.
If you have recently gotten a divorce or are spending the holidays alone because of your child custody arrangement, there’s a good chance you might be in the final category we mentioned above. Christmas can be political and emotionally charged even under the best circumstances. When you are already experiencing grief, loss or feelings of major change, the holidays are often a painful reminder of the way things used to be.
You should know that you’re not the only one feeling this way, as evidenced by the countless online blog posts and articles about post-divorce holiday survival. The advice given in these articles can range from practical to profound to cheesy. But the one thing that they all seem to share is the message that you have more control over enjoying the holidays than you probably realize.
For starters, a recent divorce or other family law issue can be a legitimate excuse to avoid your normal holiday obligations. Perhaps you don’t want to visit your parents this year because you’d rather go on a vacation by yourself. You have that option and no one should make you feel guilty about doing what you need and want to do.
You can also be picky about the activities you participate in. Don’t be afraid to accept or turn down party invitations as you see fit. You should also feel free to change your gift-giving plans to meet your current financial and/or emotional limitations.
Finally, do your best to practice gratitude over the holidays. It is far too easy as humans to focus on what we don’t have and what we don’t like about our lives. It is more difficult but far more rewarding to give thanks for what and who we have around us.
Hopefully your Christmas and New Year’s plans are shaping up the way you want them to. But if they’re not, please remember that you have the power to put the “happy” back in happy holidays!
Source: The Huffington Post, “Surviving the Holidays After Divorce,” Barbara McNally, Dec. 16, 2014