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Keeping Up Appearances: Spending Thanksgiving with Family During Divorce

It is easy to look at Thanksgiving as a time to be grateful for all the wonderful people in our lives, but what if you find yourself thinking of divorce, in the midst of a divorce, or having your first holidays after divorce during this holiday season?

It can be challenging to deal with the heightened emotions that Thanksgiving brings, especially when you are pretending to be happy and grateful for the sake of your family. If you're in the midst of a divorce and have children, the pressure to keep up appearances, even when everything is falling apart, can weigh heavily on your shoulders. Thanksgiving can feel like one of the most difficult times to get through when you're pretending everything is okay when it's not. As a divorce coach and financial consultant, I understand the pressure you may be feeling. In this blog post, I'm going to talk about how you can get through the Thanksgiving holiday while keeping up appearances for your family, even if all you want to do is get a divorce.


Thanksgiving is all about gratitude, and it is essential to put this into perspective when dealing with a divorce. Despite what has happened or is happening in your life, it is still essential to be thankful for the people and things you have in your life. Make a gratitude list and write down all the people you are thankful for; it may be your children, family, friends, or even your pets. Remember that there are still things to be thankful for and focus on them instead of dwelling on the fact that you are in the midst of a divorce. Next week’s blog is on gratitude.

Be honest with yourself:

Divorce is a process that can be emotional, stressful and uncertain. It is not easy to "pretend" but it is also not healthy to live in a state of denial. To help you deal with and navigate the holiday season, start by being honest with yourself. Acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself to grieve, but remind yourself that you are strong enough to get through this time of year.


Just because you're "keeping up appearances" doesn't mean you have to neglect your own self-care. It is important to take care of yourself especially during this stressful time. Keep up your exercise routine, meditate, read a good book, go for a walk, get a massage or talk to a friend. If you need time alone, take it. Remember that it's okay to remove yourself from any situation that may trigger you emotionally. Taking care of yourself helps you to feel better about yourself and will give you the strength to get through the holiday season. See previous posts on self care

Regarding your Spouse:

Plan ahead of time

Whether you're spending Thanksgiving with your spouse's family or your own, it's important to have a plan in place beforehand. Start by deciding if you will attend the family gathering alone or with your spouse. If you are going solo, come up with a plausible excuse for why your spouse isn't there (e.g., they're working, traveling, etc.). If you're spending Thanksgiving with your own family, let them know ahead of time if your spouse won't be joining you. If you choose to go with your spouse, set boundaries and agree to not discuss the divorce or any issues related to it during the gathering. You may also need to set boundaries for sleeping arrangements if you are traveling ot family for the holiday weekend. Whatever the scenario, time your arrival strategically. Arriving early will give you some quiet time to catch up with relatives before the gathering becomes too chaotic. Alternatively, arriving late gives you the luxury of not having to stay for the full event.

The Children:

Before Divorce Starts:

Focus on Your Children

It can be easy to feel overwhelmed by the emotions and changes taking place while you are thinking of divorce, but when it comes to the holiday season, putting your children first is essential.. Focus on the joy and love that surrounds your children, while putting any personal discomfort or pain aside for their benefit.

During and After Divorce:

Be mindful of your Children

Divorce can be especially difficult for children during holidays. As a divorcing parent, it is important to ensure that your kids feel supported and secure. This means making plans that work for them and putting their needs first. Talk to them about their expectations for the holiday and make sure that they understand what to expect.

During and After Divorce

Create New Traditions:

Just because you are getting a divorce does not mean you have to abandon traditions altogether. Indeed, it may be the perfect time to create new traditions. Involve your children and family in deciding what traditions to keep and what changes to make. You may be surprised at how much fun you will have and at how meaningful these new traditions will become in the years to come.

Set your own boundaries:

It's important to set your own boundaries when it comes to your family and holidays in general. If you feel like you're not ready to discuss your divorce, set a boundary. If you can't handle a certain family member's comments or behavior, set another boundary. Remember, you don't have to do anything you're not comfortable with, and you can choose to leave a gathering if you need to. Boundaries help you stay true to your own values, beliefs and feelings.

Prepare yourself for awkward questions:

No matter how much you try to avoid it, divorce is often a topic of discussion among family members during holiday gatherings. Think about what you will say ahead of time. You don't need to go into extensive detail about your divorce, but having a prepared response can help you navigate any awkward conversations that may arise. You can simply state, "It's a difficult time for our family, but we're doing what's best for everyone involved." You don't have to offer an explanation for every detail of your separation.

Remember, it's one day: Thanksgiving is just one day, possibly a 4 day holiday…. You can get through it, even if you're putting on a brave face. Don't be too hard on yourself if you find it tough to get through. You're not alone, and there is no right way to feel. Just remind yourself that you are strong and capable, and that you will get through this time.

Previous Holiday Posts


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