As you know, each week I like to feature an event or business in West Michigan to spotlight. I look forward to these posts each week because it helps hold me accountable and keep exploring the area! This week’s post is going to be a little bit different and much more personal.
One year ago today, my ex-husband filed for divorce. I was served my papers one week before Christmas. It can be so hard to celebrate the holidays and focus on the reason for the season when everything around you seems to be falling apart. I am so fortunate that I found DivorceCare during this time in my life.
I have mentioned the DivorceCare program previously (Specifically in the post, Five Books To Read During Separation and Divorce). This week I was able to attend a DivorceCare session called Surviving the Holidays. Going through a separation and divorce is very painful on a day-to-day basis, and during the holidays those feelings can feel magnified.
DivorceCare is a small group that meets weekly to talk about what you’re going through during separation and divorce. The course is 13 weeks, covering a range of topics and emotions.
I have met the most amazing people through this program! Last year, I had only attended two meetings before being served my divorce papers. I shared that I did not feel up to the task of decorating my home for Christmas (the folks that know me, and perhaps now that read this blog, understand how big of a deal that is for me) because it just seemed like too much. I was surprised at home later that week by my DivorceCare support group singing carols at my door! They arrived armed with baked goods, new ornaments, and so much love and joy. Together, we decorated my home! It was a great evening and a beautiful Christmas gesture.
This year it was so nice to attend the Surviving the Holidays session. I don’t remember much from the dark months, so a lot of the info felt new all over again. I feel like the videos and discussions are so helpful, no matter where you land on the path of your separation and divorce.
Here are my three favorite pieces of advice/key takeaways I have from the Surviving the Holidays video/booklet.
- Plan Ahead: Have a plan in place for the holiday. Even if you know you’re not able to be with your children or family, it’s important to plan ahead for what the day will look like. You could plan to read a new book, cook a big breakfast, visit friends/family, or go see a new movie at the theatre. This way the holiday doesn’t sneak up and blindside you. I find that this tactic works great for any major holiday/significant date.
- Prioritize: The most important part about Christmas is celebrating God’s gift to us. Everything else is extra. When your energy is depleted as a result of a loss, its unrealistic to expect that you’ll be able to do EVERYTHING that you want to do for Christmas. I like the idea of picking your three favorite traditions and start with those. Some examples are baking cookies, putting up a tree, and sending Christmas cards.
- Create New Traditions: The holidays are going to be different after divorce. Embrace that change by creating new traditions. This can be as simple as grabbing a friend to do some Christmas shopping with you if you always did it as a pair. Give the gift of time either to your family or maybe volunteer locally. Decorate the tree with your kids, or (if you’re me) blast some music, dance around, and drink wine while trimming the tree by yourself. This year, I took the opportunity to create a new color scheme and splurged on a beautiful new tree! Even a tiny change can make your traditions feel new and special.
If you or someone you know is going through a separation and divorce this holiday season, I strongly recommend looking up a group near you. In West Michigan, there are many churches who sponsor the weekly meetings and hold “Surviving The Holiday” sessions. Check out the DivorceCare website for a location near you!
I don’t know where I would be without this group. I love my DC family! 🙂