Holidays During Divorce: Making the Best of the Festival of Lights
Celebrating the holidays during a divorce lends an additional component of difficulty to an already difficult time. The holidays are a time of heightened family expectation, which, when a family is splintering (or has splintered), creates a pressure cooker of a situation. Hanukkah, also referred to as the festival of lights, is an especially tricky holiday, as celebrations span eight days and do not fall on predictable dates—at least, according to the secular calendar. The best way to successfully navigate this situation is to plan ahead and communicate clearly with your ex spouse, children, and family. What follows is a short guide on how to do just this.
Shielding Children from Divorce During the Festival of Lights:
1. Practice Clear & Fair Communication
Separated or divorced families often find that holiday tensions can be avoided if a clear and consistent schedule is established. During Hanukkah, this is best achieved by knowing how the other parent has planned each night. While it is not always easy to communicate while mired in a divorce, it is crucial that you find a way to share this information without using your children as go-betweens. When both parents know how each has imagined the holiday, it becomes easier to design a schedule that will prevent unforeseen misunderstandings.
2. Respect Family Traditions
Navigating divorce during the holidays can obscure the importance of traditions—but their absence won’t be lost on children. When communicating about how best to navigate the festival of lights (or any other holiday celebration), keep in mind that this will be a time when kids may be most sensitive to disruption. If one parent, for instance, has always played a certain role, where possible allow them to carry on doing so, if for no other reason than to provide continuity.
3. Share Custody
Assuming both you and your spouse both celebrate Hanukkah, try to equally divide the eight days of Hanukkah. Over the years, you might consider alternating the days your children spend with each parent so that they see both sides of the family. Alternatively, if one of you is not strictly observant, you might exchange Hanukkah for another holiday or vacation.
4. Think Ahead
Daily activities do not stop for Hanukkah, and often the holiday conflicts with holidays of other traditions. Be mindful of this as you build your plans and address any potential scheduling conflicts with your ex-spouse at the earliest available opportunity.
Navigating the holidays during divorce is an unenviable task, but is also one rife with opportunities for positive role modeling. Important calendar dates are, by their very nature, memory-forming; your children will retain clear recollections of these moments. Showing them how to act with grace and generosity in the face of adversity is an enormous gift, and an act that will generate positive repercussions for your relationship with them into the future.
To learn more about getting through the holidays during divorce—or about any other aspect of the divorce experience—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 below.