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A Fresh Start for the Holidays

For some who are freshly separated from a spouse, the holidays can be difficult. There are a lot of emotions at play, and the holidays are generally a time to be with friends and family. When you are in the middle of a separation, all those traditions and memories are reminders of how things used to be. Everything is upended as you begin splitting your former lives. It may be a lonely time, but there is a reason why the separation was necessary. Never forget that this choice was made for long-term happiness. One great way to get that feeling of a fresh start is to begin some new traditions.

The movies. With Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, HBO, Disney, and myriad TV stations all having streaming apps, watching movies and TV shows has never been easier. A great way to spend a weekend is to binge a favorite series. My personal recommendation will probably always be The Office. But many new shows also get released during this time. Getting involved with a mind-bending and interesting plot, and finding an online community to discuss all the little easter eggs, is a great way to feel connected with little effort. Rewatching old favorites is also one of the best ways to feel comfort. These shows are familiar—we know the twists and turns, we know the jokes, and we know where they are going; they don’t require a lot of mental energy so they put us at ease.

Food. Look, it’s cold outside, and there is absolutely no need to worry how you look in a bathing suit. This is the season for gravy and cheese. Trying new food is an adventure in it of itself. Had a boring ex that never wanted to try sushi? Now’s your chance. Ex was allergic to nuts? Peanuts everywhere. Don’t be afraid of eating alone either. If you want to go out, dress nicely, order fancy, and bring your phone for company.

New traditions. There is no rule against making new traditions. Start a new hobby or rekindle a passion for an older one. Make plans with friends, no matter how simple. Travel to a new place and take in a new city. Sometimes the change in scenery is what is needed to grow comfortable with the upcoming changes. If you have children, don’t stress about any particular day; just make each day enjoyable. What I remember most fondly isn’t an actual holiday itself, but the games I played, the excitement of gifts, and the food. If you hit those highlights with your new traditions, your children will have fond memories as well.

Holidays can be rough if you’ve recently separated. But these bad feelings are fleeting and will not be around forever. They do not define the rest of your life. It is perfectly acceptable to stay indoors, drink hot cocoa, and watch the same movie 12 times in a row. Something new will eventually take the place of the old. By all means, if you feel up to it, go and have fun!