The holidays are upon us! Thanksgiving is next week, and you’ve probably noticed that some stores are already piping in holiday music and pointing visitors to Christmas presents. (You’ve also probably noticed new cups at Starbucks that may or may not be festive enough for some people’s liking, but that’s another topic for another day and another blog.)
The holidays, while they have the potential to be wonderful and bring happy memories, can also be stressful and emotionally tumultuous, especially for families that are newly experiencing divorce. In a fantastic article from the Collaborative Law Institute of Minnesota’s blog, talking about the stress that the holiday season brings, the writer encourages newly-divorced parents to “find their new normal.”
The essence of the article can be boiled down into a single sentence: “Give yourself permission to organize your holiday season is the best way that works for you.” For some people, that might mean diving headlong into the holidays and finding joy in cookie baking, ugly holiday sweaters, and decorating the entire house in tinsel and holly. For some, that might mean booking time at a spa or a beach and avoiding Christmas music by any means possible.
The article did bring up a good point that affects many parents dealing with divorce — they want to keep family traditions and have as perfect a holiday season as possible, but it can be difficult to carry on some traditions with only one parent, or certain traditions might be too emotionally challenging to take on. With divorce comes a newly-configured family that resembles the pre-divorce family in some ways, but is ultimately different — not worse, not less, just different. That means that your new family can create and develop its own traditions as you see fit — you certainly have your old traditions available to you, but you’re not bound to them.
As the article pointed out, “Don’t be afraid to break the mold. What may have been all they’ve ever known for the holidays does not define the holidays. All your children need is your love and attention. 20 years from now they won’t remember the year they didn’t have the annual 12 foot Christmas tree, but they will remember laughing through the woods as you tried to find the worst looking Charlie Brown tree you could find!”
The article, ultimately, notes the importance of taking care of yourself and getting through the holidays, and that’s certainly the most important thing you could do. It can take time, energy, and emotional work to find your new normal, but it’s something that divorced people are certainly able to do. The article, in its entirety, has some great insights on how to get there.