Creating New Traditions

There are a number of lesser holidays and some major ones in the late winter and spring; St. Patrick's Day, April Fools Day, Easter, Memorial Day. Seems we are always ready to celebrate something.

For days that have family significance for you, trying to figure out how to make them special either during or following a divorce can be difficult. Trying to celebrate them in the traditional way, meaning the whole family comes together, is generally not possible, when tensions between mom and dad are high. What to do?

Keep them special, but find a new way to celebrate the holiday. In other words, build a new tradition. Let the focus still be on being together or acknowledging the specialness about your family. For example, have a special dinner on St. Patrick's day, but feature a different menu for the meal. Take this opportunity to freshen up the decorations. Perhaps add a new component by inviting a friend of Irish heritage and ask him or her to talk about the significance of the day to them and their family.

What if the children are with the other parent and you don't have the opportunity to share a special holiday with them? Being alone on a special day can be depressing. It can also be a time for taking special care of yourself. Funny, when we are living as a family and caring for children, we often regret not having more time for ourselves. Now you have some. Instead of spending it missing the children, take advantage of that alone time. Book some time at a spa and have that special treatment you have been missing. Invite some friends over for a celebration. See a movie you have been wanting to see. Catch up on your reading.

The key to building new traditions is planning ahead. Don't let it catch you by surprise and unprepared. Some of those activities that you can do by yourself need advanced scheduling. However, don't let that stop you. I have booked same-day massages or facials or manicures. Going to a movie doesn't require a reservation. You can download a book you have been meaning to read if you don't have a copy and don't have time or opportunity to stop by the library.

Resolve to build a new tradition for significant days when you have the children. Likewise, take advantage of those days you don't have them to get caught up on projects you have been meaning to do or be good to yourself. Above all, do not try to relive the past. Divorce is a huge transition. It is a time for new beginnings. Make them positive.