The holiday season comes with joy and challenges for us all. The traditions, the families, the expectations, the disappointments. If you are facing your first (or second, or … ) holiday season after a separation or divorce, all of these challenges get magnified — and the joy can often seem elusive. Your family unit is no more, the traditions you created just don't work when there's only one adult and your children are likely only going to share a part of the holiday season with you.
My question to you is this: do you want your holiday experience to be depressing, painful and blue or do you want your holiday experience to be ripe with possibility and all that could be new? For those of you who choose the former, perhaps another article would suit you better (and I would challenge you nonetheless to read on!). For those of you who choose the latter, let's look at some authentic ways to reframe this holiday season so you can be thriving rather than merely surviving.
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1. Honor the blue. This is not an exercise in positive thinking! In fact my suggestion is to start exactly where you are. To honor the sadness and disappointment and indeed the loss of the traditions and structures you have created and come to love around your family holidays.
Spending time actually being sad and disappointed and mourning what is no longer is a vital part of moving on from what has been. Creating a ritual to mark the passing of that which was can have a powerful impact and clear the way for the creativity of the new to blossom and grow.
Here's one of my favorite ritual ideas: Write a eulogy for holidays of old — in prose or in poem — describe what you will miss, what you appreciated, what gave you great delight and what you won't miss.
2. Distill what's true. Underneath the details of the traditions we create in our lives are the attributes of those traditions that carry the essential meaning or gift of those traditions. Spend some time looking at the different aspects of your holiday traditions and asking yourself the question: what is it about this tradition that makes it so meaningful to me? Is it really the stockings on Christmas morning or is it the wonder and awe in your children's faces as they revel in the mystery of Santa Claus? Is it really the taste of her grandmother's shortbread that she only makes for the holidays or is it the idea of something carried down through the family history?
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