When the Right Decision Can Feel Wrong: Your First Holiday After Divorce

We file for divorce because we’re unhappy with our current relationship and want change. But during the first year after the divorce, there are going to be times when change doesn’t feel great.

The holidays are a perfect example. Even if you were unhappily married, there was something magical about being a family when the kitchen smelled of roast turkey and the malls resounded with that classic David Bowie and Bing Crosby rendition of “Little Drummer Boy.”

Now it’s different. That one missing place at the dinner table is going to speak volumes, especially if Dad always carved the turkey or no one tackled their heaping plates until Mom passed the dinner rolls to everyone.

Is there anything you can do to preserve the holiday magic? You bet you can!

The Ideal Outcome

If you and your former spouse are on good terms, there’s nothing wrong with coming together at Thanksgiving and Christmas, Hanukkah, or whatever holiday your family celebrates. Dad can take the kids out to find the best Christmas tree like he always does or Mom can make her traditional (and tasty) jelly donuts for Hanukkah. You’re still co-parents, after all.

Two Can Be As Fun as One

If a shared celebration isn’t possible, why not double the holiday joy? When you and your spouse sat down to tell the kids about the divorce, you may have gently tried to put things in a positive light by saying that they will have two homes to play or hang out at instead of just one. The same thing can be said about holiday celebrations.

If you have the kids for the holidays, keep the traditions you can and adjust the ones you can’t. If Dad isn’t there to carve the Thanksgiving turkey, why not give 12-year-old Joey the honor? If Mom isn’t there to light the menorah during the first night of Hanukkah, ask 13-year-old Shannon if she would like to do it.

If the kids won’t be with you, don’t spend the holidays alone until they join you. You deserve two celebrations as well. For example, spend Christmas Day being good to yourself and enjoying everything the season has to offer. You could:

  • Join relatives or a friend’s family at the holiday table
  • Walk around town admiring the Christmas lights
  • Enjoy an unbeatable combination of chocolate, bubble bath, and a good book

You can get some great suggestions by joining a Facebook or online support group for divorced parents. They’ll understand what you’re going through, and those who live near you may even invite you to join their celebrations. If there are other parents nearby who don’t have their kids during the holidays, why not get together so you can make merry and even make new friendships?


During the first holiday after the divorce, everyone will likely be feeling the significance of the change and understandably might have feelings of sadness. You can still make the most of it and look for fun new adventures or traditions that will make it a fun and enjoyable one no matter what the circumstances.

We heard a great quote the other day, “When seemingly good things fall apart, it can be the start of something better coming together.” There are great words to live by. You’ve got a lot to look forward to as your life unfolds, and we at Bliss Law Group wish you every joy and happiness as you embrace your future. For more resources or to schedule a consultation, call our office at 253-844-4412.

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