The time between Thanksgiving and January 1 is usually ultra-busy. We look forward to the season but it is a lot of work. For those going through a divorce or who have recently divorced, it can be busy and also emotionally stressful.
Think about it. As a newly single person, you now have all the tasks to make the holidays “happen” on your plate. In addition, there is an emotional component. You are no longer a family in the way you were before the divorce. The family is “broken” and may not yet be repaired to a comfortable, workable relationship. Or, if you had an amiable divorce, there is sadness and a void.
The first year is usually the most difficult. You may have to scratch all the old traditions and create new ones. It is wise to get ahead of this and begin immediately to think about how you want the holidays to go and how closely reality will get to that dream. Of course, in planning your divorce, you had an opportunity to create a plan together how each holiday will go with the focus being on how the children’s time will be spent. It is important to not make any large changes. For example, If Christmas Eve is always spent at Dad’s parents, can that continue without Mom? Will the children experience “split loyalty”? Will they feel guilty as the identified source of conflict between the parents? Be available to hear your children’s concerns about dividing time between parents through the holidays.
It is important, in the season of gift giving, that children have a gift for the other parent. They may need help choosing and purchasing an appropriate gift. This is an opportunity to model the spirit of the holiday season and to let them see that they are free to love the other parent too.
If Thanksgiving Day alternates between both Mom and dad’s families can that continue? Think about what you have done as a pre-divorce family and see how closely you can stay to that, just without the other parent present.
The presence of the children creates the feeling of family. Whatever plans you have agreed to in your parenting plan, the parent who does not have the children could be at loose ends without plans on how they will spend the alone time. When you are in that position, you can spend the time at your family celebration, with friends, volunteer to feed the homeless or take a trip. Whatever is decided, it will be a new tradition.
It may take a few tries to arrive at the perfect solution and as the children get older, their needs and wants will change and be factored in. Don’t leave your alone time over the season to chance or the last minute. Proactively change Jangle bells to Jingle bells.