The Holidays & The Ex-Spouse


Surviving the holidays after divorce: advice from Lisa Duffy

As the inevitable holiday celebrations and family get-togethers hurtle toward us through time faster than a speeding bullet, I’m sure most of you who have been divorced would prefer to just duck and get out of the way, letting it all pass you by so you can just get on with life.

Holidays can be hard for single people in general because so many events are attended by others as couples and questions about when you will get married can be irritating to say the least. But for those who are divorced, there is an added rub in the mix: the ex-spouse and all the agony the he or she brings to the table.

Some divorced people have learned to work out the mess and are able to sit side-by-side at the family’s Thanksgiving table with their ex-spouse while the new spouse is seated on the other side. Lots of charity in play there.

But if you’re reading this post, chances are you’re not part of that demographic. So I would like to share with you a true story about a beautiful divorced Catholic woman whose open heart and mind created an experience for herself and her children that is unforgettable and amazing. Hopefully, it will change things for you this year and for the years to come.

Her name is Jodi, and she was unwillingly divorced after 13 years of marriage. She and her husband had four children together and everyone was devastated when he left. In the divorce decree, the holiday schedule was settled and the first time around, the children were to spend Christmas with their dad and his new spouse in a completely different area. He would pick them up after the last day of school and she would get them back on Dec. 29.

Jodi was heartbroken and depressed. How could she not be with her children on Christmas? They had celebrated their family traditions for years and now, there would be nothing but silence. No gifts under the tree, no excited footsteps at 5:30 am, no family dinner.

It crushed Jodi.

In her tears and depression, she turned to her parents for consolation.

Her parents did console her and also encouraged her to not become beaten down by her divorce and its circumstances. Together, they thought of a way Jodi could overcome this incredibly sad event and do it in the most positive and charitable way possible.

On the last day of school before Christmas break, Jodi put her children on the school bus and waved goodbye. Then Jodi’s parents came over and everyone got to work. Her mom and dad traditionally cooked the Christmas meal that they all shared, and being Italian, it was always a wonderful feast. So at 7 am, they began cooking in the kitchen. Jodi placed all the children’s gifts, including the ones from Santa, under the Christmas tree and decorated the table for the festive event that was about to take place.

At around 10 am that morning, each of Jodi’s children were sent to the school’s front office by their teachers only to find their mother excitedly telling them that they had to leave because Santa Clause had visited their home early! The kids couldn’t believe their ears and ran after her to get in the car and go home to see for themselves.

Sure enough, when they got home, they were met with the most wonderful display of love anyone could ever hope for. All their gifts, all their favorite treats, and most of all, the love and joy of their mother and grandparents. They ate together, opened presents together, prayed together, and then it was time to say goodbye.

Jodi brought them back to school just in time to meet the kids’ father. As he drove off with them, Jodi wiped a tear away, but not one of sadness; it was a tear of joy because God had blessed her with this incredible experience with her children and such wonderful parents who supported her and would not allow her to fall into despair.

If you ask Jodi, she will tell you that experience was what enabled her to get through Christmas and experience the joy of Christ’s birth. If you ask her children, to this very day they say it was their best Christmas ever.

I know many of you who are divorced have children and many don’t. But no matter what your situation is, I hope that Jodi’s experience and example will help you to recreate the holidays for yourself in a positive manner. The holidays are a time of celebration of faith and family and divorce can ruin that…but don’t let it.

Make your own plan to avoid the negativity and turn the season into a positive and joyful experience and see what kind of memories you can create. Most of all, since Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas and New Year’s is a time of gratitude, reconciliation, joy, and new beginnings, see how much doing something different will change your heart and put you on track for an entirely new year.

 

 

Further reading

Don’t miss “5 Ways To Cope With The Still-Single Holiday Blues.”






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