Facing the holidays if you are newly single or divorced is really scary, and can render you a couch potato watching reruns of Desperate Housewives. The holidays linger in the back of your mind, until the season is upon you and hits you like a ton of bricks. You cannot delay it or ignore it...the season has officially arrived. What to do at this time of year when you think you can barely cope, really depends on circumstances and outlook. The holidays can still bring you joy, happiness and set you up for a successful single life.
Are you just out of a marriage, and do you have children? Are the children with you for the actual holiday, or do you have them the day after the holiday? Or, are you divorced with no children, and just facing the family alone after a divorce?
Let’s start with newly divorced or single people with children. No matter what is going on in your life, the good news is that you have children who need you and the stability you provide. Celebrate the holidays and traditions as much as possible. Enjoying all the same family traditions is reassuring to everyone. If you are on somewhat good terms with the other parent, definitely try to place your differences aside, and come together for the good of the children - share a holiday meal, spend Christmas morning around the tree, or celebrate the first night of Hanukkah together. This gives both divorced parents a sense of continuity and happiness (and makes the kids happy). Maybe now is the time to start a new holiday tradition! If it is not possible to spend time around your ex without fighting, then by all means, spare everyone, and proceed with a different plan.
Here are some tips:
- Instead of Mommy and Daddy and the kids picking out the tree or opening gifts, invite close family and friends to join in at this time. They will enjoy it and appreciate the invitation. The best families aren’t always the traditional types we are born into, but the families we create with special people.
- Enlist people ahead of time for various traditions previously shared with the ex. Opening Hanukkah gifts, going to see the holiday play, cooking and sharing Christmas dinner, or visiting relatives are great ways to enlist the support of friends and family. Make everyone aware ahead of time that you need them to fill these roles at the holidays.
- If you used to spend Christmas Eve together at the in-laws, throw a Christmas Eve party yourself. Friends and family will likely support you because they want to help you through the holidays and see you happy. Plus, it is fun and an effective way to take your mind off of your newly single status. It’s perfectly okay to reach out and tell them how important their presence is, and how much it means to you.
- If you do not have your children on Christmas day, or the first night of Hanukkah, start your own tradition of celebrating like it is the actual holiday when you do see them. Lots of parents alternate the holiday, or one parent gets Christmas Eve, and the other gets Christmas day. Have grandma and grandpa come over, make the big holiday dinner, or whatever makes the holiday special to you and your children.
If you don't have children, and are recently single, how you cope with your newly single status is important. Just because you weren’t married doesn’t mean you don’t need the support as much, or more. What’s a single person to do?
- Throw a party. Invite family and friends. Let them in on the fact that this is part of your solution to cope with the holidays, and their attendance is greatly appreciated.
- Visit the homeless shelter and help serve dinner. You will meet other people there with the same charitable outlook on life. You may even make new friends!
- Go to holiday plays and movies. I recommend going to see "A Christmas Carol" at Ford's Theater in DC.
- Important! Now is not the time to turn down holiday party invitations. Accept as many as possible, with the idea that you will mingle and make new friends. Keep your social calendar full. Plan activities in advance, so that you don’t find yourself sad and home alone.
- Join the Annapolis chapter of Meet Up. The Annapolis area Meet Up has so many events, and is a wonderful way to spend time with others. I cannot say enough about the Annapolis chapter of Meet Up. They have many different activities, so something will definitely appeal to you. If not, pick something that looks challenging, exciting, or out of the ordinary. Now is the time to indulge yourself with new things you always wanted to try (but the ex had no interest in).
- Tell all your friends to call you on the phone. If you hate being alone at midnight and you find yourself sad, schedule a different friend to call each night and tell you a funny story about their day.
- Go to nursing homes and visits others who are alone at this time of year and bring joy to them.
- Help family and friends with their big holiday gatherings.
- If you think it is all still too much to contemplate, take a vacation with a bunch of girlfriends and have a blast. Always wanted to go to Paris? Now is the perfect time! Singles cruises are great fun as well. Come back refreshed and ready to start a new year and face the challenges.
- Head north! We are so close to New York City, one of the best spots in the country to see holiday decorations. Stop by Rockefeller Center to see the tree, or shop. You will never be alone in NYC during the holidays. Say hello to people and make small talk.
I hope this helps all of you dealing with being newly single at the holidays. Now, I could write another entire article on the positive side of being single at the holidays. For now, just remember, you won’t have to accept invitations you don’t want just because it is your in-laws and you are obligated. That should put a smile on your face. Happy Holidays to all of you wonderful singles!!