A friend going through a divorce recently said to me that she felt as though her split had effectively ruined the holidays – maybe not forever, but definitely for now – and that it was impossible for her to enjoy the usual holiday events and gatherings because of the lingering spectre of her recent separation, which seemed to touch everything. People, she said, were always doing that thing where they’d touch her arm softly, look into her eyes with condescension-laced concern and ask grimly if she was okay, as though she and her kids were some kind of pathetic charity case. This did not help her mood, obviously. She also felt that her kids couldn’t really enjoy the season as they had before. There was a distinct lack of holiday cheer, she said, and she felt a fair amount of guilt over this – particularly relative to the kids, who were having a hard enough time as it was.
She was feeling nothing close to peaceful OR joyful.
It’s a difficult time of the year for families going through a split, to be sure. And though there are ways to make it easier, I’m not sure it can be made easy.
I found myself struggling to come up with some sort of helpful, upbeat-sounding holiday-centric ideas for my friend – ways for her to find some measure of peace and joy in this season, despite everything she’s going through. But I’ve never been much for the light candles, take a bubble bath, drink chardonnay, and watch a Lifetime Movie Of The Week sort of methods to finding respite and relaxation often suggested to women by other women, to be honest (though the chardonnay part doesn’t sound half bad, I have to admit), and my own means to some semblance of joy and peace is more often than not writing about things, so I was kind of at a loss. Off the top of my head, my best suggestions for her were:
- Get hammered and watch A Christmas Story (but NOT It’s A Wonderful Life, for crissakes!)
- Listen to some weird, fun holiday music and go overboard with tree trimming and decorating
- Get hammered and watch Silent Night, Deadly Night with some friends (remember: NO It’s A Wonderful Life!)
- Pantless caroling!!!!
- Reinforce ye olde credit card with steel plates and go on a wild, ill-advised holiday shopping spree
I am nothing if not a helpful friend, clearly.
So in my failure I turn to you, good people of the internet, and ask: What suggestions do you have for someone going through a split over the holidays? What helps you get in the holiday spirit no matter what’s going on in your life, good or bad? Where and how do you find peace and joy this time of year, even if your life is in turmoil?
Read more from Tracey Gaughran-Perez at her personal blog Sweetney.com