Happy Holidays?



All Things Tami
Divorce Insights

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Or is it?

Unlike the Christmas cookies sitting on the cute little holiday plate in my kitchen, I won’t sugarcoat this… if you’ve gone through divorce (or are going through it), the holiday season is NOT all tidings of comfort and joy. My first Christmas on my own was smack-dab in the middle of my divorce. Technically, I was still married, but we were separated at the time.

Earlier that year, I remember asking my soon-to-be ex-husband if I would still be able to celebrate the holidays with his family. Yes, I was that naive. I didn’t want to give up the family traditions I had come to enjoy during my 23 year marriage. I thought I’d still be participating in the festivities. Maybe my ex-husband and I would just arrive in separate cars or something. Um, no. That’s not how divorce works. Unless you have kids, of course.

But not having any kids, I didn’t realize when the holidays rolled around, I would be missing all the wonderful, happy chaos of the season. No more Christmas Eve celebrations with the kids, singing carols and opening gifts. No more family dinners. No more cherished moments with the ones I loved. At least not the people from his side of the relationship.

For that first holiday season – and even a couple of years later – I didn’t think I had anything to celebrate. I had no reason to be jolly.

Or so I thought.

My family and friends made sure I realized that I did indeed have a lot to celebrate – I just needed to make new traditions for the season and discover ways to rekindle my Holiday Spirit.

“Be merry and bright!”

Here are some pointers on how to celebrate the holidays, even when you don’t feel very cheerful:

Accept every invitation. You might not want to be around people, but you need to be with others. Attend every office party, girls’ night out and extended holiday gathering you get invited to; at least for the first year. As you celebrate more holidays post-divorce, you can weed-out some of the less important events. But for the first year, go to every party, and if you are feeling up to it, host one or two.

Start new traditions. I have two new traditions for Christmas. On Christmas Eve Eve, I host the besties for a big dinner. I make everything and tell them to bring the wine. We have a small gift exchange after our dinner and then we crash in the living room for a couple of hours to watch White Christmas and some of the old puppet-mation Holiday TV Specials. On Christmas Eve, I spend a quiet day at home relaxing, and at dusk I take a walk through my neighborhood to see all the houses lit up in their Holiday Flair. Start something new this season, and make it a tradition you’ll look forward to year after year.

Make time for yourself. In the evenings during December, I like to sit and admire my fully lit Christmas tree. No TV, no cellphone, just me and the cats sitting in the living room enjoying the lights. Even though I’ve told you to accept every invitation this holiday season, don’t forget to take a time-out now and again. Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. I’ve discovered one good thing about being single during the holiday season – my time spent Christmas shopping has been cut in half. Christmas win!

Check your emotional state. If you start feeling overwhelmed, lonely or depressed, talk to someone. Luckily, I had my sister. She was my special gift during the first Christmas without my ex. She made sure I remembered all the things I love about Christmas – the decorating, the gift giving, the food and drink… and the Christmas Music that’s been playing since Halloween! I could talk to her about how I was feeling and she was there to help me get through the rough patches. Be sure to find a little elf to help you manage the season, too.

Avoid the Grinch. I was soooooo tempted to text/call my ex-husband during the holidays. I’m not sure why – what was I going to say? “I hope you have a Merry Christmas?” Seriously. I really struggled losing him during holidays. Which is weird because he was always such a Scrooge when it came to celebrating. And not the reformed Scrooge at the end of A Christmas Carol, either. He was unbelievably grinchy. Don’t be tempted to spread a little “holiday cheer” in the direction of your ex. Have another Christmas cookie, instead.

And most importantly…. really try to be merry and bright. The spirit of the season truly is contagious, so let yourself get all wrapped up in it. Just Fa La La La La your way right into the new year!

May your Holidays be filled with love, light and joy! Merry Christmas!


A Little Tact, Please

Hey, we all disagree from time to time. But since this is my little universe, I reserve the right to remove comments that are mean-spirited or contain verbal violence. Divorce discussion can get passionate and that's okay. But let's keep it classy and help one another instead of hurting one another.  For full details on how things work here, see Rules of the Game.