Your First Christmas After Divorce

If this is your first Holiday Season after a divorce or the death of a spouse, rather than joy and excitement, you may be filled with sadness and trepidation.

Avoiding a Blue Christmas

Decorating the Christmas tree

With every Christmas Carol or Jewelry Commercial you suddenly find you are rolling your eyes and then a second later, sobbing uncontrollably! You are shocked that you can vacillate between cynical and sentimental in a Nano-second! Like the hurried holiday shoppers themselves, your emotions are pushing and shoving and rushing around slamming up against each other.

"Hey!" you shout at yourself, "I thought I was getting through all this stuff!"

RELAX. It is normal to feel things more intensely at the holidays. The infinite supply of cheese balls, chocolate, Carols and Cards only serve to ratchet up the nostalgia meter as a lifetime of both good and bad memories wash over you.

While emotions are often unpredictable and we can't help what we feel, here are some thoughts to consider that can make the holidays a little less painful and hopefully even a bit enjoyable!

  • Accept that no matter what you do, you cannot make up for the loss. Trying to keep things EXACTLY THE SAME only emphasizes that nothing is the same.
  • Let go of traditions that no longer work for you. This is an opportunity to re-invent your holidays. Keep the traditions that you enjoy and get rid of the ones that you don't. No one expects you to be on your best behavior during this time, so you can probably pull it off without anyone getting offended.
  • Stick to your regular routine as closely as possible. Sleep, exercise, eat well and don't skip those therapy appointments.
  • Don't use money, alcohol, food, or sex to deal with pain and sadness. These indulgences will just leave you poor, hung over, fat, and guilty on December 26th.
  • Don't be afraid to do something different. Go away or stay home, but take a risk to use the holidays to try something different.
  • Keep mindful to avoid unrealistic expectations. Expectations are often the fuel that feeds that "let down" feeling. Instead of focusing on what isn't, focus on what is and what can be.
  • Don't make New Year's resolutions. We rarely keep them. Then we feel like failures and beat ourselves up over it! Instead, ask yourself "What have I learned this year about myself and about life?" Then, if you feel really ambitious, focus on how you can use that information to enhance the coming year.
  • Keep your perspective. A year from now, when you will look back on this holiday season, you will be amazed at how far you've come.

You have control over how you spend your days. This includes holidays. What do you want to do with this day? If your children are older, discuss new ideas and options with them, keeping in mind that while their input is valuable, you are the parent and ultimately will choose what feels healthy and right for all of you.

Return to top of Your First Christmas after Divorce


Read our other featured articles by Donna Ferber.


Getting through your first Christmas after divorce can be challenging. The following articles can help you make the most of it: