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First Thanksgiving and Christmas after a divorce can be trying

People get divorced all through the year in Missouri and around the country. However, at some point, a divorced person will go through several "firsts" on their own, some more monumental than others: first birthday as a newly single person, first bill paid from an individual bank account, and any number of occurrences running the gamut from the mundane to the heart-wrenching. Of course, one of the big ones is the first holiday season after a divorce.

Even if the divorce took place several months ago -- or even years ago -- and the intense squabbling over child custody, property division or alimony is long gone, seeing happy families posing with Santa at the mall or opening presents together in a TV commercial can bring up a wide range of emotions. This is certainly understandable and entirely normal. The trick is to handle these emotions effectively and not let them overtake you.

Many people find comfort in the advice and company of friends and family in times of crisis. However, making sure you have the right person to lean on can make a world of difference. Someone who tries to push you into things you aren't ready to do or is too negative about the situation can actually make things worse for you.

One way to address the situation in advance is to draw up a list of your holiday traditions and preparations, knowing that they will not be the same this year. Choose the ones that make you feel comfortable. A holiday party at someone's house might have been a welcome diversion in the past, but depending on who will be there, it could dredge up unpleasantness. If there are traditions or gatherings that no longer make sense to participate in, there are likely others that could become new traditions.

Source: Columbia Daily Tribune, "Facing the holidays after a separation or divorce," Kathy Leonard, Nov. 16, 2012

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