Friendsgiving: Enjoying Thanksgiving After Divorce

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Here are 10 things you should be thankful for, and 10 ways to actually enjoy Thanksgiving after separation or divorce.

By Marina Edelman (LMFT) for Divorce Magazine

Divorce/separation is an end to the current nuclear family and a beginning to a new life. Family and friends can and should still be enjoyed. As Halloween candy is being put away, look forward to Thanksgiving after divorce. This family-focused holiday raises so many questions:

Who will I spend Thanksgiving with (especially important for people who live near their soon to be ex-in-laws)? Will the kids want to spend the holidays with me or their other parent? What if I’m alone?

These questions are an important part of the closure process, and will help prepare you for the inevitable changes in your life.

Consider starting a new tradition of celebrating Friendsgiving. There’s something to be said for friends being the family you choose, as cliche as that sounds. Let’s start with listing 10 things you should be thankful for this year:

  1. Reduced travel time.
  2. Avoiding prying aunts.
  3. Not dealing with unhealthy family dynamics.
  4. Celebrating sans drunk uncles.
  5. Not having to explain why your marriage ended.
  6. Opportunity to create a new tradition.
  7. Trying new food.
  8. Meeting new people.
  9. Learning new games like the Gratitude Jar.
  10. Having an opportunity to host if you so choose.

Now that you found a new positive outlook on the upcoming holiday, let’s look at ways to actually enjoy it:

  1. Divorce is expensive, and trying to recreate what was done in the past will keep you from moving forward. Try not to compete with your ex or yearn for what was, but instead focus on what is.
  2. If you have children, remember to focus on them. Co-parenting during the holidays can be challenging. Do whatever it takes to eliminate their exposure to your emotions and maximize their holiday fun!
  3. If you fear being alone, plan in advance a trip, a party, or find an opportunity to give back your community.
  4. Decluttering your house is cathartic — out with the old and in with the new! Use the extra time you have to cleanse your mind by purging, dusting, and redecorating.
  5. Create new traditions by getting creative and making some of your holiday gifts. Your loved ones will be touched by your efforts, and you will keep busy.
  6. Be flexible. So what if the rest of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving on Thursday? Prioritize being with your children and not following the calendar.
  7. Consider spending the day alone to focus on accepting your new life. Yoga, hikes, or sitting on the beach are all great ways to gain self-awareness and acceptance.
  8. Be open to still celebrating Thanksgiving with your ex. Who says you have to be enemies? Maybe that was the one time of the year that you got along and have wonderful memories. Enjoy them!
  9. Make it simple. If you are used to cooking for an army, and this year it’s a small gathering (kids and you), consider ordering pizza and watching movies.
  10. Get comfortable with splitting the day in half. Maybe your ex-spouse gets the kids for Thanksgiving lunch and you get to spend time with them during dinner.

Whether you are celebrating Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving, find the beauty in your new life, and let negative feelings melt away.

More for Divorce Magazine

Thanksgiving Challenge: Giving Thanks and Staying Positive

7 Ways to Create New Traditions For Your Family Post-Divorce

5 Tips for Keeping Your Cool While Co-Parenting During the Holidays

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