Divorce and the Holidays-“Develop New Traditions and Just Breathe”

Divorce and the holidays written from the perspective of a former pastor’s wife.

 It’s Christmas, and it can be difficult and challenging for those trying to reinvent our holiday traditions due to unexpected life events.   Yes, things will never be the same, and we can’t force a return of what was “normal.” We have to devise our “new normal.” (Just so you know, it does get easier with time, but that does mean it is easy.)

Things have changed, and some of our traditions have to change because of that.  I think we need to develop new traditions while possibly tweaking some of the old ones that are still doable. Our PJ exchange is one tradition that started years ago in my family and has evolved since my divorce.  The kids would come to our home in the past, and we would exchange pajamas on Christmas Eve.  We would wear them that night and for most of Christmas Day.  It was a joy to open our Christmas gifts in our new Christmas attire.  

There has now been a kink in this tradition, but that does not mean it needs to be abolished, only readjusted. Ok, take a deep breath.  This is just a reminder that we need to flex our flexibility muscles during the holiday season.  It seems to be constant flexing for those of us going through a divorce.  Again I say, take a deep breath.

One tradition that I started, and plan to continue, is a page taken from an Icelandic tradition. It is called the Christmas Book Flood.  On Christmas Eve, people in Iceland exchange books, settle in somewhere cozy, it could be by the fire or in bed, and read until they fall asleep.  Eating chocolate is highly encouraged while reading your book.

I have adapted our family tradition,  Now every year, as we near Christmas, we have a pajama and book exchange.  Everyone gets a new pair of Christmas PJs and a new book.  I have come to love this tradition.  This year I added dinner and wine to the mix.  I look forward to this event every year.

When stress hits me hard, here are a few things that help me…

*I take a walk. The cool air in winter is refreshing and helps take the edge off.

*Have a good cry.  It is ok and even therapeutic.  

*Read a book or magazine.  Reading is a form of stress relief.

*Exercise is a great stress reliever, and you feel better about yourself after a great workout.

*Don’t sweat the small stuff…move on.  Easier said than done, but it is possible.  Again I say, take a deep breath.

*Plan some events you will love.  

*Force yourself out even if you don’t feel like it.  I have found Meetup has an extensive list of activities to pull from when your family has been divided, and you also can find things to do on your own.  

There are many times I have to force myself out due to what I will call “Chronic Divorce Funk,” but once I attend, I am always glad that I did, and the Funk just seems to fade away.

Whatever you do this holiday season, I hope you can find peace and joy.  When you feel like you don’t know what to do and you feel the pressure building call out to God.  He loves you and has promised that He will never leave you or forsake you.

God Bless you and Merry Christmas