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Home for the Holidays: Alone But Not Blue - By Brette McWhorter Sember

Home for the Holidays: Alone But Not Blue
By Brette McWhorter Sember

† As a single parent, youíre probably facing an upcoming holiday during which youíll be alone. Most parents have arrangements in which they share or alternate holidays with a former spouse. When itís the other parentís turn to be with your child for a holiday, you can wind up feeling depressed, sad and blue. No more! This year, take the holiday by the horns and banish the bad feelings.

Talk to Your Child
The first thing you must do to keep the holiday blues at bay is to talk to your child. Make sure your child understands where he or she will be spending the holiday. It can be helpful to mark the plans on a calendar so that the schedule is solid in your childís eyes. Explain to your child that you will miss him or her while he/she is with the other parent on the holiday, but point out that youíre happy that he/she will be having fun and want him/her to have a good time. While itís important to be honest with your child, it is equally important that you not burden him or her with the responsibility for your happiness. Donít tell your child that you will be miserable, lonely, in tears or completely depressed while he or she is with the other parent. Itís ok to say you will miss him or her, but follow this statement with reassurances that youíll be together again soon.

Make Plans With Your Child
Plan out with your child when you will celebrate the holiday together. For example, if your child is spending Thanksgiving Day with the other parent, plan your own Thanksgiving for the day after or for the next weekend. Itís not important what you do or when you do it, as long as you plan a way for you and your child to celebrate the holiday together in some way. This will help your child feel confident that both parents are truly a part of his or her life and will give you something to plan for and look forward to.† Some parents find that in the first few years after a divorce, it works best if they spend important holidays together with their child (for example, having the non-custodial parent come over to spend Christmas morning with the custodial parent and child). If you think this option would work for you, try it.† You can also plan to have some kind of contact with your child on the holiday itself. Plan to call him or her on the phone or even to stop by for a quick hug and kiss on the other parentís front porch. Making contact with your child on the holiday itself will not only help your child cope, but will help ease your own feelings of loneliness.

Make Plans for Yourself
The key to getting through a major holiday without your child is to plan ahead for it. Some parents simply put all thoughts of it out of their heads to try to avoid dealing with the unhappy feelings and then end up on the holiday itself with nothing to do and nowhere to go.† If your family celebrates together for this holiday, get involved in planning the event and look forward to spending the day with them. If not, you can decide to have your own party and invite family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors Ė anyone you want.

Think About What You Want
Give some thought to what you really want to get out of this holiday. Are there things you have always wanted to do, but have never been able to? Maybe youíve always wanted to go to a football game on Thanksgiving Day, perhaps you always dreamed of caroling on Christmas Eve or hoped to host a Kwanzaa feast. Now is your chance to fulfill your holiday wish list.

Filling Alone Time
Even if youíll be attending a party or hosting some kind of event, there will be some time on the holiday when you will be alone and if you have no plans, the day may loom long and empty before you. Take some time before the day comes around to plan out some things you can do on your own. Look around your community for events celebrating the holiday Ė church services, community get-togethers, civic events, single parent gatherings and so on. Donít be afraid to go alone Ė there are a lot of other parents who are also alone on holidays.



If your day still looks wide open, make a list of things you can do just by yourself. These donít have to be earth-shattering, spectacular plans. Anything that makes you happy and gives you something to do works. Try some of these suggestions:
take a long walk alone
buy a special meal to have alone at home
cook a special meal for yourself
go to a movie
read a good book
rent videos
give yourself a home beauty treatment
buy yourself something youíve been wanting Ė wrap it up for yourself to unwrap if you want
get a big project done around the house, such as painting or wallpapering
organize your photographs or make scrapbooks
clean out your closets or basement
get a big project done for work
give some time to a local charity
stay in bed all day
go away for the day or the weekend to someplace youíve always wanted to visit
chat online with other parents who are alone
create something special to surprise your child with Ė a mural on his or her wall, a batch of cookies, a fort you built in the backyard and so on
start a new hobby Ė start knitting, hit some golf balls, make wreaths, build model airplanes Ė anything that is new that interests you



Cope With Your Emotions
Donít forget to make time to deal with your emotions. Have a good cry, punch some pillows and shout out loud about how angry you are. But then let it go. Itís not possible or realistic to move on and completely let all of it go, but itís important to try to let most of it go. You have to move forward. A holiday alone does not have to be the end of the world. Look forward to the next time you and your child will be together and to the next holiday you will celebrate together. Be happy that your child has two parents who love him or her and that he/she is lucky enough to be able to have time with both parents on holidays.



Brette McWhorter Sember is the author of The Visitation Handbook: Your Complete Guide to Parenting Apart, (published by Sourcebooks) and is a former family law attorney and mediator. Her web site is http://www.BretteSember.com





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