Thanksgiving is a time to give thanks for what’s in your life and, in the case of some individuals, who is no longer in your life – like a former spouse. Even if you’re happy to be divorced, that doesn’t make the first Thanksgiving after a split any easier. The traditions you had established with your ex are now broken, and you’re forced to come up with a new plan for celebrating Thanksgiving, especially when you have children.
Establish New Traditions
Maybe you always hosted a big Thanksgiving dinner at your house. There’s no reason you can’t continue to do so, but when you have kids it might be hard on them to not have one of their parents present. New traditions can help take the focus off of who is absent or what’s not taking place that usually happens on this holiday. It might be as simple as eating in another room, serving different foods, or going to the home of another family member or friend.
There can be plenty of events happening around Thanksgiving – school-related, family-related, church-related, or community-related. You don’t have to attend everything, especially if any of the happenings will highlight for your children that their parents are no longer together, or make it obvious that one is missing from the proceedings. Talk with your kids about the things they really want to participate in – a special school celebration with their friends, for example – and agree to do those activities. Say no to the rest of them. This is a period of transition. Don’t feel obligated to make everyone else happy if it isn’t the best thing for your children or you right now. And don’t feel obligated to spend the Thanksgiving together with your ex for the sake of your kids – if your divorce is at all contentious, it could be a disastrous holiday rather than one that’s “normal” for the kids.
Take Care of Yourself
If your parenting time agreement means your children will be with your ex and not you on Thanksgiving, make sure you accept an invitation to celebrate with others so that you’re not alone, wallowing in grief or sadness and missing your children. Appreciate the opportunity to take care of your own needs on this day since you won’t be with your children. That doesn’t mean downing a few bottles of wine to get through the hours. Eat well and eat heartily with other people you love. Lean on that support system that has been offering you companionship.