Dealing With the Holiday Season

gray divorce, divorced over 50, holidays

So, did you come through the Thanksgiving Holiday okay?

If it’s your first one since your Divorce Over 50, it was probably rough. Even if it was your sixth, as it was for me, it still doesn’t feel quite right. My young adult children were in town, and this was my year to have them join my family’s Thanksgiving dinner. Which was great. But it’s still odd to be sharing them with my ex-wife, as they spent some nights at my place, and some at hers. It’s strange to hear about them going to a “Second Night of Thanksgiving” at her and her new husband’s house. And I missed being in a home on Thanksgiving Day when the meal was being cooked — I used to revel in the smells, the warmth, just the whole feel of that experience.

And now, the Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/New Years Holidays loom.

Those Holidays can get “interesting” under the best of circumstances. As a newly Divorced Over 50, who likely had developed decades of traditions with a spouse and children, they can be especially difficult.

Here are some suggestions that should help you have a better experience in late December:

  • Plan ahead. You know the holidays are coming — they’re right there on your calendar. If possible, coordinate with your ex about who’s doing what, and when, with your kids. And on the days that it’s not you, recognize that you might feel badly, and make some other plans. Take a quick ski trip. Go visit friends or relatives. Book a spa day. Be proactive — reach out to friends or family, telling them you’ll be on your own and would like to get together. Don’t sit back and hope they recognize the situation and invite you.
  • Take care of yourself. Over-eating and excessive drinking occur during the Holidays, even under the best of circumstances. And it would be so easy to fall prey to overindulgence during the stress of a Holiday while Divorcing. Make every effort to fight that off. Keep exercising if you already do, start exercising if you don’t. Drink the same as you would in March,  or even cut back. And if you just can’t pass up those Holiday goodies, at least balance out with healthier meals every opportunity you get.
  • Attitude and expectations. You can dread the upcoming Holidays, or you can see them as an opportunity. If you dread them, and convince yourself you’ll be lonely and miserable, guess what — you will be. On the other hand, you could keep an open mind, staying flexible and being creative about how you celebrate. Kids with the ex on the 25th? Who says you can’t have your own Christmas with them on the 26th? And, on the 25th, instead of feeling sorry for yourself, how about helping someone less fortunate by manning a shift at a soup kitchen? Your life has changed, and your old traditions will likely end. But with the right approach, you can start some wonderful new traditions to carry you through the decades ahead.

The Holidays can be tough, and a real challenge when you’re already going through a painful situation. But by being prepared and adopting the right mindset, you should be able to have a perfectly fine experience.

More information on this topic can be found here, here, and here.  And here’s a whole book called “No More Holiday Blues.”

Happy Holidays, everyone!!