The year immediately after your divorce is going to be full of new firsts. Some of those firsts will feel incredibly light and freeing. Some first will feel more challenging. We are fast approaching Easter and Passover, and radical life change or not, holidays serve as strong trigger for the nostalgia of your "old life."
It's understandable that your mind drifts down memory lane. You may remember the tantalizing aroma of your grandmother's house and the roasted lamb she serves for Passover Seder. Your mouth might water at the thought of your favorite auntie's asparagus casserole making its annual appearance at Easter brunch. But memory lane often brings up not just nostalgia, but sadness or melancholy. You remember the uncle who always seemed to drink too much. Or the inevitable argument with your ex over which holiday would be spent with which set of in-laws.
While the pleasant memories are worth holding onto, the first holidays you experience post-divorce provide the perfect opportunity to cast off the unhappy ones. Instead of clinging to the legacy of the past, you can choose the pieces of each holiday that you want to keep, and toss away the bits that don't resonate with your new life.
Here are 7 Tips for getting through the spring holiday seasons with grace.
1. Know That All Of Your Feelings Are Valid
You will likely experience a myriad of feelings: happiness that you aren't in a miserable relationship, deep joy for the season, and grief for the loss of your marriage. You may also feel anger, lingering sadness or loneliness. Every single one of your feelings is valid and the best way to get through the icky ones is to allow them. If you are feeling especially melancholy, don’t hesitate to reach out to a therapist or coach to help you through.
2. Envision Your Ideal Easter or Passover Celebration
Before you commit to plans or pull out that Bundt pan, take a few minutes to imagine the ideal holiday. Would it include church or temple? Would it include a specific main course? Is there someone specific who will be there? Is there a special outfit you would wear? This isn't about perfection at all. It's about envisioning a positive take on the day.
3. No Explanations Necessary
If you're planning to spend the holiday with your extended family, be prepared for comments or questions for the peanut gallery. Some people escape the content of their own lives by obsessing about others (and want the dirty details). Remind yourself that that you don't owe anyone explanations or details about your divorce. You probably already know which cousin or aunt is going to pry, so be prepared with a funny or kind reply while keeping your personal boundaries in place. Remember: your business is your business.
4. Be Game to Try Something New
Even if you're feeling nostalgic, it doesn't mean you have to do what you've always done for Passover. Maybe you want to host a few friends instead of family. Maybe you want to let the kids hunt Easter Eggs (even though you're Jewish) or try Matzo Ball Soup (even though you're Christian). Or maybe, you want to go to the Botanical Gardens or out to brunch. Now is the time to create new traditions as you move into a new phase of life.
5. Be Willing to Be Untraditional
If you and your ex parted on good terms and you have children together, it’s okay to still celebrate the holiday together, especially this first year. It doesn’t matter what your friends or your mother thinks about you spending a holiday with your ex. It’s your life and you need to choose what feels best for you and your family.
6. If You're On Your Own
If you’'e in the midst of his-kids/her-kids and you'll be spending the holiday alone, or you have no kids but just can't stomach spending the holiday with your family, you have the right to opt out of anything that feels like an obligation, rather than a choice. Treat yourself with extra kindness, whether that means a bubble bath, drinks with a girlfriend or going away for the weekend.
7. Your Change in Marital Status Doesn't Change Your Relationship With God
If Easter or Passover is sacred to your soul, allow it to be sacred. You don’t have to separate yourself from God, your church or your spiritual practice. The mere presence of other soul seekers can be comforting. If you are seeking a new place of worship, a holiday gathering is often a great way to get a feel for the community.
Holidays can be challenging for everyone, so cut yourself some slack this spring and remember that you've gone through a radical life change. Whether your divorce was horribly painful or completely amicable, it's important to acknowledge that the first year is a time for deep healing. You have the opportunity to create new ways living and being, and this includes how you choose to celebrate the holidays.
Take the core meanings of Easter and Passover to heart and cultivate a deep faith that everyone is going to be ok. In fact, choose to believe that the best is yet to come.
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