Tips to Survive (and Even Enjoy!) Thanksgiving During Divorce
Thanksgiving is almost here. Even in the calmest of times, there’s so much that goes into the holiday besides just the turkey on the table. When you’re going through a divorce, it can feel emotionally and logistically overwhelming.
Here are some tips from on how to survive and maybe even enjoy yourself. You deserve it!
Plan Ahead and Be Flexible.
Thanksgiving is about being grateful for what you have, and spending time with loved ones. It is not about being solely on the 4th Thursday of November. If you’re a parent, craft a plan with your spouse that allows your children to share holiday time with both of you in a way that maximizes fun, and not stress. Keep communication with your spouse or ex-spouse as open and cordial as possible. Give some thought to the kind of day you’d like to have, and put a plan in place to make it happen.
Change It Up.
Don’t get hung up on making everything “just right” and be open to changes from what you’ve always done in years past. This is an opportunity to do things you have always wanted to do but maybe didn’t because you were so focused on maintaining tradition literally. If the holiday has always been a formal affair, maybe try a more comfortable approach this year. Have you always spent hours in the kitchen? More and more restaurants are offering to do the work for you these days, try taking them up on the offer. Whatever you choose, give yourself time to get plans in place so you aren’t rushing around last minute when you already have a million other things on your mind. Add a totally new tradition, like outdoor skating at Winterfest in Bushnell Park on the day after Thanksgiving.
Reach Out to Family & Friends.
It’s ok to want to talk. Rather than wish or wait someone would reach out to you, empower yourself to ask for help if you need it. It’s important to take care of yourself all the time, but sometimes during the holidays we need an extra boost. Finding yourself alone for the first time, and not totally comfortable with it? Make a call to a trusted friend or family to reserve a seat at the table.
Set Clear Boundaries.
Sitting at the table sharing memories and jokes is one of the best parts of Thanksgiving. Getting grilled with questions from your weird aunt or nudgy parent is not. If you’re in the midst of a divorce, the questions can come fast and heavy, whether or not they’re well-intentioned, it can feel overwhelming. Your divorce is yours, and you’re not obligated to share any information you aren’t comfortable sharing. Hopefully you’ll be sharing the table with supportive and non-judgmental folks, who understand you have a right to privacy and to choose what you talk about.
Don’t Feel Guilty, and Let Yourself Have Fun.
It’s easy to let yourself be consumed with guilt. You’re changing your children’s routine, your newer, smaller holiday feels not “as good,” or whatever else that nagging voice in the back of your head is telling you. Squash it. You are allowed to enjoy your time. Encouraged to, even. Divorce is upsetting and can feel like it’s taking over everything. If by some chance, a day with good people, a delicious familiar recipe, or watching the parade brings a smile to your face, or clears a mental fog for a bit, embrace it. You deserve to feel happiness, and to enjoy the holidays as much as anyone else.