This will be the first Christmas after our divorce. Our children are worried about how it will all work. I love Christmas with them. I haven’t spoken directly to my Ex for months. We text arranging pickup of our children but have not talked. He has a girlfriend who isn’t really interested in anything to do with our family. Being altogether at Christmas is out of the question. How can I get through this holiday season?
The first time for anything after a divorce is always a challenge. The first major holiday can definitely be one of the biggest challenges if you allow it to be.
Your Ex is involved with your children so the two of you need to discuss how the holiday can work for everyone. Although you haven’t spoken, consider how you could plan the holiday via text. Is it possible? Texting is a very limited form of communication. Could you chat on the phone?
Before any interaction carefully look at options, and set the stage by stating that you both need to co-operate for the sake of the children.
Negotiate and aim for being reasonable and firm. If the discussion gets heated then agree to try again when you both have calmed down.
Your children have been through a lot this year and disagreements with your Ex should be minimized.
Take charge and make plans for the time you will have with your children. Look carefully at the family traditions and be prepared to press delete if some traditions just don’t look like they will work.
Include your children – if they are old enough- to have a say in the holiday. Find out what traditions they definitely want to keep. Do they have any new ideas? Give them some options and agree to add at least one new venture. Being pro-active will help relieve some of the anxiety toward the holiday.
In my situation we found the best way forward was to change a few traditions and add some new ones of our own. More than twenty years later I can say that it worked brilliantly to create ‘new’ in our family holiday.
We often try to include friends new and old and that has given our Christmas an added dimension. There are always people that for some reason might be alone at Christmas.
There will be alone time for you over the holiday when your children are with their father.
Plan now to alleviate the aloneness we all inevitably feel in those situations. You can visit friends or family or do something you’ve always wanted to do at Christmas but were not able to do during your marriage. It might be a show or concert, pampering –whatever your budget allows.
Consider that lots of places have community dinners. Either volunteer to help or go to one as an adventure in meeting new people. It is our choice to write a positive next chapter in life.
Holidays, at the best of times, are emotionally charged. Plan ahead, have a positive attitude and be flexible. If you can genuinely feel it will be alright your children will take your cue.
Check in with yourself, determine how you are coping and take time to recharge. When it is over, be open to assessing the events with your children.
Then begin your plans for the next holiday.
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ABOUT LINDA SIMPSON
“I take strength from your calm, your honesty, and the hope you give me for my future.” Cheryl
Linda is a fresh voice in the divorce advice world. She offers a pragmatic, common sense approach to life after divorce issues based on over twenty years surviving and thriving following a very traumatic divorce.
As a single parent, her sons are an enormous source of joy in her life. She is a loving mother and grandmother to four delightful grandchildren.
She holds a degree from the University of Waterloo with concentrations in sociology and philosophy and guidance counselling certification from Queen’s University.
She is an accredited trainer for The Peace Education Foundation, a leader in conflict resolution training. The institute is ‘dedicated to educating children and adults in the dynamics of conflict resolution and promoting peacemaking skills in home, schools, and community.’
In a long and successful teaching career, she also served as a counsellor and workshop facilitator for SEL (social emotional learning) programming and The Peace Education Foundation throughout her school and school district and was a frequent conference presenter for SUNY Potsdam Faculty of Education USA.
She writes for The Divorce Magazine UK and her blog is seen regularly on Huffington Post Canada where the focus is life after divorce and parenting issues.
She is a writer and poet and is presently at work on a book based on her divorce experience.