Christmas After Divorce: Tips for Creating New Traditions
Whether this is your first Christmas after divorce, or your second, third, or fourth…the experience is never easy. The holidays, for all their cheer, can also dredge up hard feelings, so it is natural that you may be feeling sad, anxious, or even angry. Simple things like getting a tree, putting up Christmas lights, or preparing dinner may have your stomach in knots, and yet, if you have children, you know how important it is to provide a memorable holiday experience. However hard this may be, having a plan helps, and the following five tips can assist you in building one.
Five Post-Divorce Tips for a Cheerful Holiday Season
- Set Realistic Expectations
Christmas comes with a whole host of expectations, and those going through a divorce sometimes set these even higher than normal. It is understandable that you would want to show yourself (or your ex) that you won’t be broken, and yet this behavior has a painful way of backfiring.
Don’t expect that your holidays will go unaffected by this enormous change in your life. On the contrary, go in anticipating difficulty, and set realistic expectations in response. This way, when things go better than planned, you’ll receive a morale boost at a time when it is sorely needed.
- Do Something You Have Always Dreamt Of
While divorce can feel like a major setback, it can also be a major source of liberation. Have you always wanted to spend the holidays at the beach? Or host family on Christmas Eve but felt constrained by your ex-spouse? Take this first (or second or third) Christmas after divorce as an opportunity to do so! Organizing such a plan in anticipation of the holidays will give you something to get excited about as Christmas grows near.
- Don’t Try to Recreate What Has Been Lost
Divorce brings about major change, and the easiest way to adjust is to let go of what has been lost. Don’t try to recreate your family’s old Christmas traditions; instead, invent new ones. If your children are old enough, involve them in the planning and place your focus on nurturing quality time. New traditions need not be grand or overstated; they simply need to be sincere. If in the past you have always gone skating in the afternoon, for instance, maybe this year you each pick out a new board game and spend the day laughing through these fresh pursuits.
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Talking to an ex-spouse is not always easy, and yet the effort of doing so goes far in saving Christmas. As early as possible find a way to share plans, goals, and desires. Maybe one of you does gift-opening on Christmas morning while the other gets Christmas dinner. Maybe you alternate between having the kids for Christmas one year, and for New Year’s Eve the next. Whatever your structure, make sure your co-parent knows about your plans, and you about theirs. The worst thing that can happen on Christmas is an unforeseen miscommunication that embitters the entire experience.
- Lean into Family
Especially during your first Christmas after divorce, make a point of leaning into your family, close friends, and loved ones. The strong bonds between parents and siblings—biological or not—are a natural salve on the scars of divorce, and this is never truer than during the holidays. Maybe this year you invite aunts, uncles, and cousins over for a Boxing Day celebration. Or, perhaps, you let your parents relieve the burden of making Christmas dinner and you gift your kids quality time with grandma and grandpa. Whatever your approach, leaning into this love is almost always a surefire way to relieve the holiday blues (and maybe even establish some new traditions while you’re at it).
To learn more about navigating Christmas after a divorce, or for help negotiating child custody during the holidays—or about any of the many other challenging aspects of divorce—do not hesitate to reach out to the attorneys at Lazor Rantas, PC either by calling 973-457-8844 or by using the contact form on our website.