While it may always be a difficult day, creating new traditions can eventually help Thanksgiving to again become a special rather than a dreaded time of year.
HOLIDAY IDEAS FOR DIVORCED SPOUSES
Divorced partners with no children can feel especially lost on this family holiday, but there are options to keep the blues at bay.
Consider visiting your parents or perhaps some distant relatives you haven’t seen for a while. Better yet, invite them to your place for dinner and bring back the joy of creating a family celebration.
Check with co-workers, church members or gym friends to see if any of them will also be alone for the holiday and invite them for a formal dinner or a potluck gathering. You may find that this becomes your new extended family for many holidays throughout the year.
Reach out to help those less fortunate than you. Contact local charity groups to see what help they need such as serving a holiday meal at a homeless shelter or food pantry. When you focus on helping others, you forget your own problems for a while and generally feel better about yourself.
Embrace your alone time. Tackle that project you’ve been meaning to do or rent that movie you’ve wanted to watch. Make a list of the things you can be thankful for right now such as good health, a great job or supportive friends.
Whatever you choose, remember that it’s ok if emotions bubble up. That’s to be expected, even when you’re with other people. Be kind to yourself and remember that you’re doing the best you can to move on and create new, happier memories.
TIPS FOR FAMILIES WITH CHILDREN
Even divorced couples on good terms with each other can find themselves in conflict over where the children will go for the holidays. Consider using divorce mediation to create a formal agreement around holiday visitation to prevent this additional stress on yourself and your kids.
Once the situation is settled, start thinking about how to enjoy Thanksgiving in a new way.
For the parent who will be with the children, don’t try to recreate everything you did before the divorce. Instead, make new memories such as eating on tray tables in the living room while watching a holiday movie or even going out for a non-traditional Thanksgiving meal. (Pizza, anyone?)
Pick up craft kits for you and the kids to do during the day or have a board game marathon with older kids.
If your children won’t be with you on the actual day, have your own Thanksgiving with them on a different day. You can be thankful for your blessings on any day of the year!
Remember that your kids may feel guilty and sad about leaving you, so send them off with a smile. Tell them you’ll miss them but they’re going to have a great day and you’ll see them soon. Then consider some of the options in the first section to keep you from feeling lonely.
With a little flexibility and imagination, you can create new Thanksgiving traditions that will become cherished memories for both you and your children.
Contact me to learn about using divorce mediation to create a workable holiday visitation schedule.
ABOUT ERIN BIRT
Illinois attorney Erin Birt is a skilled legal professional with over ten years of experience in trial and divorce law serving clients in many DuPage County cities including Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Naperville, Warrenville and Winfield.
She opened the Law Firm of Erin Birt, P.C. in 2010 to offer her clients alternative divorce resolution services, specialized collaborative divorce options and family law expertise. She and her expert team continually develop creative outcomes such divorce mediation and family law mediation that work for all parties involved, particularly children.
Ms. Birt holds a J.D. from DePaul College of Law and is a member of the Collaborative Practice Professionals of Illinois, the Collaborative Law Institute of Illinois, the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals and the DuPage County Bar Association.