Post-Divorce Holiday Survival Guide

Thanksgiving is here and the December holidays of Christmas, Chanukah, and New Year’s are right around the corner. We’ve shared tips before on how to survive the holidays when you are separated or going through a divorce. But another year has passed, and we’re back with some all new and updated ways on how to enjoy this special season, no matter what your marital status.

Get Connected: It’s easy to suggest volunteering during the holidays as a way to keep your mind off your own troubles and help out those in need. In light of Superstorm Sandy, however, this year help is really needed. As communities in New Jersey still struggling to recover from the hurricane host Thanksgiving dinners for people who have lost their homes, utility workers from out of state, and others in need of a place to eat this year, why not pitch in and lend a hand?

For starters, Marvel US Management and the Plainfield Educators Association are looking for volunteers to help serve Thanksgiving feasts at three locations in Plainfield (Union County). Volunteers are needed between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving day. Contact or call 732-570-9467.

Other free Thanksgiving dinners are being hosted for victims of Hurricane Sandy all over the state. The Asbury Park Press has compiled a list of at least 50 locations, and volunteers are still needed at many of the dinners.

Want to volunteer a little closer to home? If your spouse has given up a spot at your family’s Thanksgiving dinner table, why not offer it to a visiting utility worker from out of state — or push a few more chairs around the table and invite a family displaced by the storm? Through the non-profit group Tablesharing, displaced people and out-of-state utility workers away from their families are being matched with a place at the Thanksgiving table in a welcoming home. See this CBS News story for more information.

Make Peace: In her Huffington Post article, 6 Ways Divorced Parents Can Get More Time With Their Children During the Holidays, WLG’s Bari Weinberger offers her advice for negotiating more time with your kids during the holidays. If you are emotionally able to, could you try spending a holiday together this year as a family? Rather than have one parent sitting alone on Thanksgiving or Christmas, why not extend the olive branch and offer for your spouse to come over for dinner? It’s a wonderful example for your children that the two of you can be civil, and that you remain intact as a family. If you set the example, maybe when it’s your turn to sit out a major holiday without your children, the favor will be returned.

Of course, if you think there is no way this won’t lead to bickering, for the sake of your children, stick to your original plan of split celebrations.

Stock Up: If being alone seems inevitable, make sure you everything you need to stay occupied. Buy or rent some new movies or books, gather necessary supplies for that do-it-yourself project you’ve meaning to get to, and make sure the fridge is filled with healthy favorites. A busy day usually goes by fast, so even if it’s a day off from work, give yourself a to-do list to keep the hours full.

Take a Trip: For some people going through a divorce, spending the holidays with extended family or even with a good friend’s family only serves to exacerbate feelings of isolation. You may not want to be alone, but you also don’t want to spend the holiday with people who could ask you uncomfortable questions or (worse) look at you with pity. This may be the perfect year to take a trip or cruise to explore new places — and meet new faces. Start checking travel websites now for some solo adventure bargains.

What’s your holiday survival plan?