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Thanksgiving marks the official beginning of the holiday season. Although usually less fraught with anxiety than Christmas, if it is the first “big holiday” since your estrangement from your spouse, you may be dreading the day. It also may be your first holiday without your children.
Going through a divorce can give you the perfect “excuse” to break with tradition and forge your own way of celebrating. Spending the holiday home by yourself watching videos and eating Chinese take-out (yes, they are open on Thanksgiving) may be just what you need to do!
Another idea is to prepare a complete Thanksgiving dinner for yourself with you favorite foods. Set the table with linen and candles and put on music you like. Enjoy the day celebrating by yourself. Divorce gives you the opportunity to listen to what you want and what works for you. It can be a time of loss of traditions, but it also can signal liberation from those traditions, rituals, and obligations that no longer have meaning for you.
If you do decide to spend the holiday alone, some people may feel uncomfortable with your decision. Stand your ground. Know what is right for you. If you need to spend the day cleaning out the basement or making cookies, then do it! Pay attention to your own needs.
If you have your children for the holiday, you may want to discuss alternate plans with them. Some families go to the movies on Thanksgiving Day, eschewing the big turkey for a big bag of popcorn. You can make new choices to fit your life. Above all remember, every holiday is only twenty four hours. You can get through twenty four hours. Next year won’t carry the same weight as this year. You will be surprised when you look back on how far you have really come. You will be able to affirm that the journey was tough, but worth it!
One final word on Thanksgiving—whatever you decide to do, set aside a few minutes to express and feel your gratitude. You can do this in prayer, with your children, in a letter to yourself, or in volunteering. There are good things in your life. When you neglect to honor them, you give divorce too much power. Divorce is not your whole life, but rather something that happens in your life!
About the Author: Donna F. Ferber, LPC, LADC is a psychotherapist in Connecticut who works with families in transition. From Ex-Wife to Exceptional Life: A Woman’s Journey through Divorce was awarded Honorable Mention in the self-help category by the Independent Publishers Association. Her second book Profileactics: A Guide for the Prevention of Ill-Conceived Personal Ads was published in October 2009. More information at www.donnaferber.com