1. Don’t forget the pieces of Thanksgiving that matter to you regardless of your marital status or who is around your table this year.
Holidays have an unfortunate way of emphasizing happy, healthy families, which with divorce can make you feel as though you are uninvited to the party. Separate Thanksgiving from all of the other elements that get thrown on to it. Ask yourself, what does Thanksgiving mean to you at its very core? Without our kids, our holidays get exposed for their very essence. What is the essence of Thanksgiving that you don’t want to miss this year?
2. Don’t ruin Thanksgiving for your kids by making it awkward for them to enjoy where they are celebrating.
Your job as a mother didn’t change even though your family structure was altered. You’re still the person your children look to for guidance. If they see you full of dread, negativity, and resentment as you approach Thanksgiving Day, they may bring those feelings with them to their other parent’s Thanksgiving feast. While the smaller part of you would secretly like it if they had a terrible time with them, the bigger, more magnanimous part of you wants good things for your kids. It even wants those good things for them even if you’re not a part of them for these 24 hours.
3. Don’t be alone all day.
There is a definite pull in the heart of a divorcing woman to want to seclude herself and cocoon in her mess of emotions. You are reluctant to plan anything with other families because the pain of watching them together only highlights what you don’t have this year. You fear the unpredictability of your own emotions and want the freedom to fall apart privately and alone. My divorcing friends, please make some plans. You don’t need to have all-day plans, but you need an anchor plan to get you out of your head and heart and into thinking about others. Ruminating alone with our thoughts has been shown to bring about depressive behavior. Give your mind a break from ruminating and get with other people. Help out in their kitchen. Make sure all of the guests have a full drink. Serving others will get you out of your own ruminating and into a new story.
Thanksgiving can be hard, and the feelings it stirs up may be unavoidable. Be gentle with yourself, but also make sure that you get into the real meaning of Thanksgiving for you, bless your children as they seek to celebrate in new and possibly unfamiliar ways this year too, and connect with people for at least part of the day. You’ll make it through and be better for it!