Article by: India Kern

After divorce, nothing remains the same, so why would Thanksgiving remain unscathed? No matter how hard we try to hold onto things, like traditions, the truth is holiday celebrations are different after divorce. If you have kids, you most likely share custody, giving up the holiday every other year.

Not seeing your child on a holiday might bring you lots of pain. It certainly hurt me, because Thanksgiving used to be my jam. When I was married to my first husband, we hosted elaborate Thanksgiving dinners, inviting our friends, who were fellow transplants like us. We pulled out the china and silver and set up long tables outside with white linens and beautiful floral arrangements. The kids ran around the yard, delighted with what the day brought – permission to eat their birth weight in sugar without being scolded.

Divorce annihilated my Thanksgiving tradition. I used to take the “pity party” posture, but now I embrace the change. For some reason, usually I do not see my kids on Thanksgiving, but I am OK with that. Oftentimes, we divorced parents get caught up in power struggles, and the answer simply lies in finding the creativity to redesign the situation. It’s an adjustment, and it’s okay if it doesn’t resemble what your normal used to look like. Knowing that nothing will be the same as it used to be is the first step to creating new, but different traditions.


When we’re in a crisis, it’s hard to imagine things ever changing, but they always do. Not to say that you’re in “crisis mode” on Thanksgiving, but you might be fretting about the holiday, because it’s not what you had expected.

Look at this way, now you have the chance to create a new and magical Thanksgiving. “New” doesn’t have to fit in a traditional box. Embrace the change and know that this is your path now. Your path is taking the “non-traditional” route, and that is perfect in its own way.

Now my husband and I join friends, eat turkey and watch the red November sunset on the beach – that’s me walking the non-traditional route. It’s an amazing celebration that is centered around fellowship and engagement. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday for this very reason. There are no presents that need to be exchanged, instead your presence is needed, and your full engagement is required.

I have discovered that the recipe for an easy Thanksgiving is simply, be present, fully engaged, no matter what your Thanksgiving looks like. If it’s not how you imagined, focus on what you have rather than the things that are missing, because when we cultivate a grateful heart, there’s just no room for an anxious mind.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


India Kern, CDC®

Certified Divorce Coach • Author • Podcaster • Speaker

Written by Author and Certified Divorce Coach India Kern. India specializes in working with people caught off guard by divorce. She helps them build confidence, find a sense of security and be happy again. Located in La Jolla, CA, India provides one-on-one coaching in person or by teleconference.

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