Holidays are often stressful for married couples, but when you add separation or divorce into what is supposed to be holiday cheer, you may end up in holiday tears. What you may be most concerned about is creating a happy holiday season for your children. How can you accomplish this when you’ve disagreed on the holiday visitation schedule, you are resentful that the kids will spend part of this time with your ex’s new girlfriend or wife, or are worried that your former in-laws may say something nasty about you within earshot of your children?
There are so many potential explosions to consider during the holidays and let’s face it: part of the unhappiness during this period centers around the disappointment of not making the marriage work and create a Hallmark Channel version of the season. No one signed up for ‘you get the kids Christmas Eve and return them to me early Christmas morning’ or ‘I’ll have Thanksgiving with the kids at 2 pm and you can get them for Thanksgiving dinner at 6 pm’. Certainly, your children didn’t agree to that but that’s where you are right now.
So, instead of grieving over the holidays you don’t have, how can you appreciate the time with your children that you do have? Creating new and different traditions with your children separate from those you enjoyed as a family are one way to start. Maybe you go to a holiday carnival or parade. Perhaps you decorate your home in a completely different way than you did when you and their dad were together. Another wonderful activity is to give to others less fortunate. You and the children can volunteer at a senior center or homeless shelter, serving dinner to residents there. Collecting toys and backpacks for children in impoverished areas is lovely as is hosting a local military recruit who is away from his or her family this holiday season.
The point is to avoid competing with your wusband, shelve the resentment or grief over what was and is not now, and make some new magic. You can’t bring back the past but you can offer your children a beautiful holiday that they will always remember.