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Giving thanks after a divorce

There is plenty of advice available for families facing their first holiday season after a divorce. However, most of the research focuses on the effects of divorce on the children who are transitioning to alternating holidays with their parents. While this is an important issue, the stresses of the holiday season in the adjustment period after a divorce can make celebrations like Thanksgiving a difficult time for adults who are not navigating custody arrangements as well. 

Even if divorce was the healthiest choice for you and your ex-spouse and you parted on amicable terms, it is not uncommon to have feelings of loss or doubt following a separation. If the upcoming holidays have you feeling more Grinch than grateful, here are some ideas to try to restore your holiday spirit. 

  1. Rekindle old traditions. Chances are you have some traditions from childhood or holidays prior to your marriage that have gone by the wayside. Gather your family and friends to bring back the magic of some of your original holiday rituals.  
  2. Volunteer to help others. One way to connect with the heart of Thanksgiving or Christmas is to give back. There are several sites that welcome volunteers through the holiday season to work with organizations that offer food, housing, clothing or other types of assistance during the holidays. Start looking through the opportunities now so that you can be best prepared to find a volunteering experience that is a good fit for you.  
  3. Shake up the holiday routine. For some people, the first holiday after a divorce or separation is a good time to opt out of the traditional celebrations completely. Depending on your financial situation or family obligations, you might enjoy the freedom to use the days away from work to travel somewhere new. Instead of thinking about how the holidays used to be or should be, take that trip you have always dreamed of but never had the time for before.   

Be kind to yourself if the normal joy of the holiday season is not at the forefront of your mind during this transition. With time, you will build new traditions to celebrate this wonderful time of the year.