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Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Merry Divorced Christmas!

“And a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed…….” 

Do you know those words?  They are, of course, from Luke’s record of the birth of Christ.  Are you in the Christmas spirit yet?  I’m not.  Too early.  But there may be some of you who are especially not in the Christmas spirit, because this Christmas you will have to celebrate without your spouse….it is the first one after your divorce.  And you face the season with dread, anxiety, uncertainty….maybe even poverty.  What do you do(Some of you may not be in this situation, but may know somebody who is…..read on, you may be able to help somebody through a tough time.)

One of the best things you can do….in my opinion….is to see this season as an opportunity for a fresh start.  You may feel very keenly the sense of loss…. and be oblivious to the fact that it is also an opportunity for something special.  I would suggest you consider it an opportunity for a different kind of Christmas….one that can bring new meaning for many years to come.  I believe you can accomplish this two or three ways….or maybe both ways works for you.  I know both had meaning for me when I was in your shoes.

The first method is to incorporate something new into your Christmas… something that will become uniquely yours.  It can be something simple like a new Christmas decoration.  Or maybe attending a Midnight Christmas Mass at a nearby Catholic Church.  I did some of these kind of things.  A friend told me about an excellent stage production of Dickens's Christmas Carol in a nearby city.  Since money was tight, I learned that if you went to the right matinees, it was affordable for me.  I went with my kids or friends or, later, my fiancĂ© for a number of years….until I moved away from the area.  Another difference was I decided to skip the artificial tree and go out to tree farms where the kids and I could wander and search for the perfect tree that we could cut ourselves…..even if there WAS six inches of snow on the ground.  I remember one particularly bitter cold outing after an ice storm with electric poles on the ground and slippery roads to negotiate.  That year, the wind convinced us that the best tree just happened to be right beside road we drove in! 

The second method might be to think back into your “ancient” past to discover and reclaim something special from days gone by….before you were married.  For me, that could be things like driving around to view Christmas lights in nearby neighborhoods, or allowing the kids to open just one present on Christmas Eve, or reading Luke’s Christmas story at home BEFORE the presents are opened. 

A third method is to consider the various Christmas traditions you have developed, and select which ones have special meaning for you.  When you find these, you then find ways to make them even more special.  This is especially important if you have children at home….in all the upheaval and change, they need to know that there are things they can count on as lasting.  For me, these things included honoring the tradition of attending Christmas Eve Candlelight and Communion services.  It meant having the children get out the old favorite nativity sets, and asking them to arrange them on the piano or counter.  It meant including certain favorite tree decorations (even if the memories brought tears), and putting them on the tree once again.

Don’t let the loss you are feeling this Christmas discourage you….although I know it is hard not to feel that.  But as a counterbalance, find ways to reclaim Christmas celebration in YOUR own manner, with YOUR own meaning, free to pick, choose, change and create something special. You’ll be glad you did.  Just don’t wait until Christmas Eve is upon you before you make some choices and plans.  Begin now to consider and to develop some options.

TL:dr  Christmas, though hard, can be special if you start making some choices now.

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