The Jewish High Holidays are just days away, Thanksgiving is just around the corner and I'm sure many are counting down the shopping days until Christmas. Celebrating holidays can be a stressful time when you're divorced -- but it doesn't need to be.
If you find yourself without your children or extended family at a time when you traditionally celebrated with them, it can be a sad and lonely experience without them now. Who says you have to celebrate those days the traditional route or the way you celebrated when you were married? If you find yourself alone, create new meaning for these celebrations and enjoy them on your own terms.
Here are some tips to get you through these celebrations:
Create new traditions. If the old traditions are too painful to follow, let them go. Instead of trying to re-create the past, create your own positive future. Throw your own party and invite friends or family who have nowhere to go during this time.
Make a special effort to take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Don't try drowning your sorrows with alcohol or food. Doing anything to excess when you are sad or worried is rarely a smart move.
Be good to yourself. Go for a manicure or massage, buy a great CD, catch up on your favorite hobby. Treat yourself the way you would treat a good friend or family member.
If you are feeling overwhelmed and vulnerable, speak with a trusted friend, therapist or someone in your support group.
Plan ahead. If it looks like you're going to be spending the time on your own, find an interesting activity or a place to travel so you can be with other people.
Surround yourself with people, whether from your support network, your family, your church or synagogue. You may even be able to attend a special support group holiday function.
Contemplate how you would like your life to look like post-divorce and write down what you need to do to get there. Start doing one of those things now.
Stay in control by making lists of what you need to do and checking each item off as you accomplish it.
Use any time alone to do the things you've been putting off -- catching up on paperwork; catching up on sleep; reading the great book that's been sitting unopened for weeks or months; calling the friend you've been meaning to reconnect with.
If putting on a dinner or party in the family home doesn't feel right, try doing something for others off site. For example, you could visit a retirement home and read to those whose families can't be with them during the holidays.
Continue to make the holidays special for your children. Include them in developing new traditions. Ask them how they would like to celebrate.
Plan ahead how your children are going to spend the holidays. Avoid the stress of figuring things out last minute. This will give you a sense of comfort, relief and control.
Be creative and flexible. If your children are not celebrating the holidays with you, think about making another day during holiday time a special day together.
If your children are going to be with their other parent, phone them and wish them a happy holiday. Let them know that you are thinking about them.
Don't make your children feel that they have to take care of you during this special time. Send them the message that the holidays are a special time and you want them to enjoy themselves.
Spare the occasional good thought for your ex. Your marriage likely had some good moments. Remembering those times occasionally will help you lift yourself out of your bitterness about your current situation.
Wishing everyone good health, happiness and prosperity; peace and love.