About two weeks ago, I checked in with my counselor. I’ve been feeling great. My life has direction, I feel confident, I feel happy, and I enjoy my new dating life.
The reason for my check-in was one that I think every newly single person thinks about – the holidays.
What would my first holiday season solo in six years look like? AJ and I had a ton of traditions, and now I was looking at Thanksgiving by myself and a trip home to New York at Christmas, also alone. Once home, I would be surrounded by happy couples… likely a reminder of the fact that I was no longer a “happy” couple. Regardless of my divorce being the right thing for me, I started to dread the holidays.
After I quickly recapped the past few months for my counselor and told her of my emotional progress, I asked her “How do I face the holiday season alone? How do I handle the difference between this holiday season and the last six?”
Her response surprised me, though it shouldn’t have.
She told me I should make new ones.
I love traditions. Growing up, my mother did a great job of keeping the holidays special with our traditions. Each Christmas Eve, I looked forward to opening up a pair of pajamas and sipping hot coco (or wine as I got older). That tradition, among others, anchored my amazing memories of those times.
When AJ and I started dating, we started our own traditions. On Thanksgiving, AJ and I would spend the morning on the couch, watching the parade and drinking mimosas (even though he didn’t like champagne). I’d make our dinner and we would eat, laugh and talk about what we were thankful for. For Christmas, AJ and I always gifted each other ornaments. We always pick out our tree at a local farm and made cookies while decorating. We always gave each other gifts on Christmas Eve, mostly because we couldn’t wait to surprise one another with some goodies. Our stockings would contain fun games and nerf guns. In January, we’d celebrate our dating anniversary with homemade pepperoni pizza and red wine. Each year I knew what I looked forward to most, and that was spending time with him, doing our traditions, and making memories that would remain special forever.
Now, I have a blank slate. A chance to create new traditions. What did I want my first holiday season as a single person to be?
I gave it a lot of thought. However, each thing I wanted to start as a tradition had one common theme. Each new tradition was solely about me. Not about me “the lonely divorcee”, but me “the triumphant, self-sufficient woman”. I finally get to celebrate me, and finally someone is putting me first.
I can’t remember the last time I was a priority.
What are my new traditions?
1. Karaoke on Thanksgiving Eve – I will be singing my heart out to anyone who will listen.
2. Hosting Thanksgiving for anyone who wishes to come – I love to cook.
3. An annual barrel tasting at one of my favorite local wineries – No explanation needed… wine.
4. Starting each new year with a spa day – To feel refreshed and ready to take on the new year.
Christmas traditions are still in the works… but I know I will come up with something to celebrate this crazy, uplifting, upsetting, bizarre year.
My counselor said something I found incredibly profound. She said that the first year after divorce (or a serious breakup) is the hardest because we don’t know what it looks like without that person. Planning things, such as traditions, helps us map out the year, and it doesn’t look as bleak as we originally thought.
It’s true. I was nervous about how I would react without AJ by my side during my favorite time of the year. I am looking forward to so many great things in the coming months, and that makes facing it without him more than bearable. It makes it exciting.