The Trouble with Holidays...
What do Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year's, and birthdays all have in common? Celebration! But for children of divorced parents, like us, they can be more painful than joyful. And that's a problem to which there is no easy answer. No matter happens, it's a lose-lose situation. If both your parents are at the celebration, you're worried about how they'll act around each other. If they aren't, it's just another reminder of how your family isn't "normal." So how do you deal with it? There are 3 keys to keeping the holidays happy after divorce.
#1: Make Your Needs Known
Whether you want to celebrate Thanksgiving with mom's family, or your birthday with your dad, or want them both to celebrate with you, it won't happen unless you tell your parents that's what you want. So tell them! If your parents don't know how you feel, then nothing will ever change. My birthday was only a few months after the divorce, and both of my parents were at the party. It was really stressful. My mom's friends didn't know how to act around dad, and I was so nervous that they were going to fight that I didn't have any fun at all. I told my mom about it, and it turned out that neither of my parents had wanted to do it. They had thought that it would make me feel better to have a "normal" birthday. Since then, I've always had separate birthday celebrations and I'm able to enjoy myself.
#2: Start Fresh
No matter what you do, the holidays are never going to be the same again. But that doesn't have to be such a bad thing. This is the time to create new traditions! For example, every Thanksgiving dinner my dad, my sister and I all go to a different international restaurant. So far we've had Mexican, Indian, and Japanese. We do the traditional Thanksgiving meal with my mom for lunch. It's an opportunity to have twice the celebration, too. I have a bit of a unique case, in that my grandparents are divorced, too, so I've always had a very large stepfamily. I just see it as a way of getting twice the Christmas presents!
With divorce and holidays, it's all about your perspective. You have the opportunity to make the best of a bad situation, and enjoy yourself, too. When you're looking for the next disaster ("What if mom talks to dad about ____?"), you'll find one and might even add to it yourself. Just remember, today is about having fun! Take some deep, slow breaths and smile, even if you don't feel like it. You'll find yourself feeling better.