Monday, 03 December 2012 16:24

Surviving the Holidays Part 3: Christmas, Chanukah, and More

Surviving the Holidays Part III: Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali, and New Years

The Winter holidays; Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Diwali and New Years, can be very difficult, especially if you are newly separated or divorced.   The thought of celebrating the holidays may seem impossible and even depressing, especially if your children will not be with you.  Your first instinct may be to isolate yourself from friends and family, but you should try to embrace the holidays as best you can.   Accept invitations to parties, or plan your own holiday party.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, set limits so friends and family know what you are capable of doing during the holiday season.  

      In his article, Your First Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa since Divorce, Brian Galbraith lists ten things you can do to make your holiday special.  Below are the top five, with suggestions on how you can implement them.  To read the full article, click here

1.   Ensure your schedule is specific: If you have children and you have not addressed the holidays with your former spouse or soon to be ex-spouse, now is a good time to begin discussing a holidayIf you already have an Agreement or Court Order, you should review the holiday schedule to make sure you know when the children will be with you and if details need to be worked out, resolve them now rather than later when the stress of the holiday season can make negotiating difficult.  

2.   Don’t fight over which days you have your children: There are many options for holidayFor those who celebrate Christmas, one option is for one parent to have the children for Christmas Eve and the other parent to have the children Christmas Day.  Think about when exchanges will take place taking into consideration what will work best for your children.   Because Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Diwali are multiple day holidays, parents often celebrate these holidays when they have the children on their regular access days.  However, for some, it is important to have the children on a particular night of the holiday.  While you may not be able to have, for example, the first night of the holiday every year, you may agree to alternate.  Try to treat your ex-spouse the way you would want to be treated, even if the behavior is not reciprocated. 

The specific holidays are not the only issue to think about.   Most children are off from school between Christmas and New Years.   You should consider who will be with the children during Winter Break.   If you typically go out of town to visit relatives, or for vacation, you may need to discuss if this is possible now that their time may be divided between both parents.   If neither of you have off from work, childcare is an issue you may need to discuss.   If you are having difficulty agreeing on a holiday schedule consider meeting with a divorce mediator or a divorce attorney to assist you with negotiating an amicable resolution.

3.   Do something special for yourself:  Exercise, yoga, and even meditation are great ways to reduce stress and feel good about yourself during the busy holidayInvite some friends over for dinner or suggest you go out to celebrate the season.   Catch up on movies you’ve wanted to see or books you’ve been planning to read.  

4.   Support your children: Do not speak poorly about the time your children spend with their other If you feel you need to vent, call a friend or your therapist. 

5.   Create new traditions:  Recognize that it may not be possible to maintain your past traditions. If you do not have your children on Christmas Day or the first night of Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, it is okay to celebrate on anotherYour children will be happy to be with you, regardless of the calendar date, especially if you plan and schedule your festivities so everyone has something to look forward to.  Here are a few ideas for creating new traditions:

a.   Plan a holiday movie marathon with popcorn and hot

b.   Create a CD or I-pod playlist with holiday music.

c.   Have dinner and then drive around to see the holiday lights andYou can visit nearby neighborhoods or go to some of the organized light displays in our area.

d.   Attend a Holiday show, such as theThere are so many options in our area to suit any budget.

e.   Take your children shopping so they can pick out a gift for their otherYou can also purchase supplies and have the children make a gift for their other parent, as well as grandparents, friends, and other family members. 

Remember, anything can be a special event if you keep a positive attitude. The best gift you can give your children and yourself is the gift of peace and joy this holiday season.

( 12/3/12)

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