Christmas, Pandemic and Divorce – How to Get Through the Holidays
Guest Post by Wendi Schuller
Divorce is challenging enough during the Christmas holiday season without the pandemic making it more complicated. Divorce is a new territory and what helped many of us, was sticking to familiar traditions. They may have to be tweaked to comply with Covid-19 mandates. I enjoy the concerts at St. Martins-in -the-Fields in London. This year, they are being shown online. The few live ones have limited seating. A way to enjoy this ritual is to invite a few friends over and serve my pizzelle cookies which I make every Christmas season. Be creative and think how you can still do what brings you joy. When I felt my world was swirling around me during divorce, the holiday traditions kept me anchored.
Friends and Family
Your family and friends are rallying around you and want to give support during your divorce. They may want to give hugs. One can be torn between needing to be with others and having to draw the line on safety issues during this pandemic. One appreciates their concern, but feels guilty setting boundaries to stay healthy. As a nurse, I recommend thinking about what is your comfort level. What about physical contact? Are kisses or a hug okay? Can you let your relatives know ahead of time before they sweep in for an embrace if it is not?
Even if people think you are over reacting, they will understand the reason why – not wanting to contract Covid. Recently in the States (Ohio), almost half of the guests came down with Covid-19 from attending a wedding. Masks are usually removed inside a home. That may be alright when a few people are present. When the extended family is celebrating in close physical contact, that can be problematic.
There are ways to celebrate the holidays during divorce and get the in-person support you crave. Do it in small groups. Instead of one big family bash, break it down into small, separate gatherings. Split up the holidays. Do not cave in when others try and pressure to be in crowds. Yes, it is more time consuming, but less possible exposure than a single large event. One is more able to maintain social distancing, especially when masks are not being worn.
Perhaps invite your parents over for a festive brunch. Then go another time to your sibling’s house and do a Christmas activity with their kids. It could be this year you only see a few relatives who live nearby. Travel may not be on your agenda right now. If there is going to be a large gathering to decorate a family or friend’s tree, bow out gracefully. Instead, offer to bring over a pizza or some take-away a day or so later to admire the beautiful tree.
One can feel isolated in divorce and a pandemic intensifies this feeling. Friends help one get through the proceedings and keep one’s sanity. They want to be there to listen and give advice. Let them know how much you appreciate this – just not in a large group. Do fun activities or have lunch with just a few at a time. Go places where there is some space between tables. If it is somewhat warm, sit on a park bench with a buddy and have sandwiches. I meet friends and we get lattes and decadent desserts for take away and have a nice chat outside.
The important thing is to stay connected to others. It can be through WhatsApp or online. My friend going through an acrimonious divorce, texts or chats with me every few days. We are living on different continents. Some friends pour a glass of wine and have happy hour using programs like Zoom during this pandemic.
Do festive activities with a few friends outdoors. Walk around your neighbourhood and enjoy the lights. Go ice skating on a frozen pond. It is possible to celebrate the season and be safe. Having fun and a sense of humour got me through divorce in the holidays.
Wendi Schuller is the author of The Global Guide To Divorce. She has a series of children’s books with the third, Jack Jack The Cat Loose In London being released in October 2020. She is a dating coach who specializes in helping people date after divorce. www.globalguidetodivorce.com
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