One of the tough things about this time of year is that if you’ve been through any kind of personal upheaval involving family, the holidays are a big reminder of how much has changed. You’re in a different place now than you were when you were married … and while that can be depressing, it also can be great.
You may not be psyched to reinvent the past or relive old memories, and that’s totally fine. This is a great time of year to invent NEW traditions. After all, after divorce, values can shift. Maybe “what really matters” is something different to you now.
What I’d like to see are more holiday traditions that are calming, and non-commercial; that you can do on your own, or with a group, with a lot of value either way; that you can start doing regardless of whether you’re married, divorced, single, widowed, or what have you.
Here are my ideas.
Walk in the woods. Was is Thoreau who said, “An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day”? Appreciating a walk in the beauty of nature is a great thing to do on your own, and also a great gift to share. Better than a pair of socks, in my book.
Help someone in need. Make it a holiday tradition to give your time, support or resources to someone who needs them. In NYC, for example, we have theNeighborhood Coalition for Shelter who are always taking donations (especially) around the holidays.
Do a Winter Clear–Out. The small break I take at holiday time is often partly spent going through the house, organizing things, and separating out what I don’t need to give to charity. This is satisfying on many levels.
Cook for strangers. What better time to make baked goods of the sweet OR savory variety—my specialty is cornbread casserole—and deliver to the deserving folks at the fire station, the 911 call center, your mailman?
Board Games. I have a feeling lots of people are doing this already, but go ahead—have a board game night. Invite people.
Talk. I don’t mean family gossip; I mean talk with people you care about, about life. Talk about the best memories of the year, and the worst ones. Be open. Be yourself. Talk.
Seek out an old friend. Even if it’s over the phone, set aside time to catch up with someone you haven’t seen in a long time, who probably doesn’t even know you’re thinking about them.
Give up electronics. Yeah, I know. This is almost impossible these days. But anybody can do it for 24 hours (even me). Shut everything off, unplug, and just hang out. Read, chat, hike, sing—all those things we used to do before the internet.