Well, the holiday season is upon us.
While the media tries to sell us the idea that this is the “most wonderful time of the year”, the reality for a lot of people is that the holidays are the source of a lot of frustration, resentment, and downright depression.
For some of you, this might be your first holiday season after your divorce. Some of you might have custody arrangements that will leave you without your children for a significant portion of the holidays.
So how do we face our new reality and still manage to hold on to “peace, joy, & goodwill towards men”?
1. This is Your Time
Think back to the years of celebrating the holidays as a couple. Were there things you wanted to do but didn’t because of your spouse’s objections? Maybe there were things you had to do but didn’t really enjoy.
Make this holiday season all about you (and your children, of course).
Did you always feel drawn to midnight mass, but never made it? Do it this year.
Did you spend hours cooking even though you hated every second because your in-laws expected it? Skip it this year. Order a holiday meal to be brought in – or even just have Chinese food – whatever you want.
2. Start New Traditions or Rekindle Old Ones
It can be hard when you have to change traditions because of the divorce.
Before my divorce, Christmas Eve was spent with his relatives with lots of food and friends. Gifts were opened starting at midnight and lasted until the wee hours.
After the divorce, I missed that. For years afterward, I would just sit around while my son was enjoying the night with his dad feeling sorry for myself.
Now, a new tradition has developed were my mom comes to visit and we spend the evening cooking for the next day. It is a lot more cheerful and fun.
Maybe you would like to include craft-making as part of your new traditions. Spend some time surfing Pinterest and get those creative juices flowing.
3. Help Others
Make helping others one of your new traditions.
Volunteer at a food pantry. Start a blanket drive. Even just cleaning out your closet and giving the items to Goodwill can have an uplifting effect on your spirits.
In addition, it gives you something to do. And you are helping others – what could be better?
4. Keep Calm, Cool, and Collected
During this time you may be having more contact with your ex. School is out, schedules need to be arranged, and presents coordinated. It is more important than ever to practice our “getting along” skills.
First, get enough rest and eat regularly. Being tired and/or hungry doesn’t allow us to be at our best. And we need to bring our best to the table when interacting with our ex.
Look closely at what is under your control and let go of the rest.
Mediate, relax, practice deep breathing – whatever you have to in order to find that place inside you where the joy, peace, and goodwill are residing.
Refuse to let other’s behaviors, words, or actions pull you from that place.
They have no power over you. They can’t make you lose your holiday spirit – only you can.
As we wrap up another year – one that may have been extremely difficult for you , it is time to give your self the present of your future.
We may feel uncertainty, heck, even fear, but now is the time to let go of those Ghosts of Christmas Past and open our lives up to all that awaits.