Surviving the Holidays during a divorce

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‘Tis the season of joy, visions of sugar plums, family and friends, anticipation, familiar carols, and twinkling lights. But for those newly or many years’ divorced, it’s also the season of changes, flexibility, and sometimes sadness as you adapt to the new single-parent role or find yourself suddenly single again.

One holiday season but two households, two sets of traditions, and multiple work and school schedules can be workable with a bit of planning and a realization that while the holidays are different, they can still be festive and even fun.

The experienced team of divorce attorneys at Seabrook Law Offices guides their clients through the divorce journey and offers the following suggestions to find holiday spirit after a divorce:

  • Set realistic expectations.

You don’t have to do it all, and limited resources after a divorce may mean you can’t. Concentrate on a few traditions or rituals that mean the most to you, and give your children the gift of your time. Being present may be the best present you can give them. Choose things to do and make those as meaningful as possible, or start a “new” tradition with your children. Plan an evening to decorate the tree. Hang a few new ornaments or even make some. Plan a cookie-baking/decorating afternoon. Plan a Christmas movie night with festive snacks. Attend a church service and relish some quiet reflection.

  • Reach out to family and friends. 

Share your schedule with family and friends and let them know your plans and when you can join them with the children. Make sure they also let you know if your ex will be attending events, too, so you’re not surprised, and you can decide whether to attend or not. A day on the calendar doesn’t make a holiday. It’s who’s around the table that makes it a special day.

  • Be honest.

If people ask how you’re doing, be honest. “It’s our first (eighth, etc.) Christmas since the divorce. It’s hard (different, okay, upsetting, lonely, etc), but I’m managing (need help, would like some company, etc).”

  • Fend off those Ghosts of Christmas Past.

Instead of sending that holiday card with a family photo, send cards with your children’s photo, or find a card with a warm sentiment to send to family and friends. The key is to stay connected.

  • Plan ahead, but be flexible.

Juggling two households, work, school, and spouse schedules means you must plan and communicate as best you can. The earlier, the better. Sit down with your ex and a calendar.

Synchronize school events, vacation time, travel plans, and visits to be with grandparents. Plan days to spend time with the children and with extended family and friends. Then make plans for those days without the children. Don’t wait until you wake up to an empty house. Take a short trip, open that book you’ve been longing to read, go to a movie, take a hike, stay in your pajamas and make it a “me” day, or take the opportunity to step out of your routine and sign up to volunteer at a food bank or church and pass out holiday meals. You’ll come home tired and fulfilled with a new memory.

Be mindful of the need for backup plans like a pizza night, bundling up and spending the day at the park, or leaving goodies for a sick friend.

  • Your comfort. Your joy. Take care of yourself.

Accept that invitation that you would otherwise turn down. Make a lunch date with girlfriends. Pamper yourself with a movie night in your pajamas without having to share the remote.

Indulge in a few luxuries like new cozy flannel sheets, a new fragrance, a yoga class, or ingredients for a new recipe you want to try instead of opting for takeout.

The holidays after a divorce are different, and there’s no amount of sprinkles that can sugarcoat that fact. Give yourself permission to celebrate the holidays in the way that brings you and your children the most comfort and joy, and let go of the past and preconceived notions about what that should look like. Surround yourself with people who love and support you, find those peaceful moments, and discover a new sparkle in the season.

Compassionate and experienced, the divorce lawyers at Seabrook Law Offices offer free consultations to discuss each couple’s and each family’s unique situation and issues. Paul Seabrook, founder of Seabrook Law Offices, and his team of experienced divorce attorneys are there to inform, educate, assist, and guide their clients from initial filing to resolution.

Contact Seabrook Law Offices. 6840 Via Del Oro, Suite 265, San Jose. (408) 769-5817 or 2201 Walnut Ave., Suite 190, Fremont. 510-400-4984. Visit, check out their latest blogs, or request a free consultation.

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