The Holiday Season is never easy to get through when you have dealt with loss. You will forever see a missing person at the table with your family. I always tried to do something at the Holiday table to remember those that are not with us any longer. We also have dealt with family members being deployed or away at training during the holidays. I had a very wise woman tell me back in 1992 that in a lot of ways that death is easier to deal with than divorce. I still do not totally agree with her but have never forgotten the conversation and that she told me that with love in her heart for me and what I was going through.
As a single parent, I personally dreaded the holidays because I saw it as a 'spending' day and lots of the other parents I knew were spending hundreds of dollars per child on their Christmas lists. I had to start in August to have Christmas presents bought for everyone in the family and had to hide gifts all over the apartment to keep my inquisitive children from finding them.
I never lied for my ex-husband and if he sent presents, then I gave them to the kids the day they arrived and was very matter of fact about it. Usually the gifts came from his parents and had all their names on them. It was never easy, but I did my best to not put-down or verbally bash my ex-husband in or around my children. Yes, I had plenty of meltdowns and crying spells late at night when I couldn't sleep even though I was exhausted. Thankfully, I was blessed with co-workers with a listening ear and lots of encouragement that helped me keep my perspective and always put my kids first.
I followed some traditions that I grew up with. I put the tree up and put the lights and garland on then let the kids put on the ornaments as they chose. We put the tree up the last day of school for winter break. I did not grow up going shopping the day after Thanksgiving and I still HATE going shopping that day. I read "Twas the Night before Christmas" to my children on Christmas Eve and they got one present (my choice) that night before they went to bed.
My second husband was a Christmas nut and overspent and overdid for the holidays in my opinion. It was a constant struggle every year with our opposing views of the holidays. The children were older in those days and yes, their wants/gifts were more expensive but I always worried that we were giving them too much or feeding a greedy attitude that most teens have these days.
Now this year I face my 2nd Thanksgiving and Christmas as a single person in my family. I do not know right now where I will spend Thanksgiving but I will carve out some 'me' time so that I can shut out the noise that always gets on my nerves.
My Christmas holiday starts a little early because I am spending 8 days in Colorado with my son and his family. This will be the first time in 5 years that I will see my son on Christmas Day! I am so thankful for the opportunity to earn money and spend that money on a plane ticket to visit family.
I work a full time job in an accounts payable office and I own my own business in direct sales with PartyLite. I am so very blessed to be able to do both and on my own schedule. 2013 has been a year full of blessings and God has helped me through them all.
I hope you carve out some 'me' time for yourself in the holidays and don't get swallowed up in the commercialism of the season. Be good to yourself and if you get overwhelmed with family forced togetherness, take a walk, get out of the house and take care of yourself.
Please know that I hope you have more joy than hassle this holiday season and that if you need help with the holidays, you ask for it.
If you are newly divorced, separated, single, please check out www.divorcecare.org and attend their class about surviving the holidays. It is a great course!