When Holidays Aren't So Jolly

Close your eyes and imagine your favorite holiday memory. Really! Any holiday.

It probably doesn’t have anything to do with your mother talking badly about your father, or your father introducing you to his new girlfriend on Christmas morning, does it? Holidays can be a time of great happiness and moments that live on in our minds forever, just like that favorite memory you imagined a few seconds ago.

The holidays can also be a difficult time to navigate when families are newly separated. Divorce can make everyone’s emotions a bit raw, and no one is more keenly aware of the difficulties than children. They are smarter than we think, and they see and hear things we wish they did not. So what can you do to make your holidays just as jolly as before your separation?

For starters, remember the meaning of the holiday. Whether it is Christmas, Thanksgiving, or your child’s birthday, keep the focus on the holiday. It is not helpful or productive for anyone involved if you make the holiday about your feelings towards you ex-spouse. Your emotions towards your spouse may
be the most encompassing thought on your mind these days, but it would be unfair to your family and children to allow your ill feelings to ruin the holiday mood. Choose to let your emotions take a back seat to the memories that you and your family will create this holiday.

Another way to embrace the first holidays after a separation is to incorporate new traditions with old. It might be too upsetting for the entire holiday tradition to be changed from what your children expect and have grown accustomed to experiencing. Keep some of the key elements the same and add new traditions. You can gauge what your children really appreciate about holiday traditions by engaging them in conversation about their favorite aspects and memories of a particular holiday – do they love
cherry cheesecake on their birthday, or do they love staying in their PJ’s all day on Christmas? Whatever their memories are, honor them by continuing to keep those key elements as a part of your new traditions.

What is the next holiday your family will celebrate? What kind of memories will you help your children to create?

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