Traditions and rituals create continuity with our communities, our families, especially our children, and with our past. Traditions and rituals can be deeply satisfying, and give a wonderful sense of perspective as we look back over years.
They can also be stifling and stressful. Especially if you are restructuring your family through a divorce or separation, your old traditions may no longer work for your new reality. Sometimes the traditions create stress because they are a reminder of your family when things were working well, and a painful reminder that they are not working well now. And maybe the traditions were stressful to begin with, and needed to change. Rather than feeling only loss around the holidays that the family traditions cannot happen because the family structure is no longer the same, view this as an opportunity to think about what is important to you and create new traditions. This may be a great opportunity to reconnect with extended family that got pushed to the fringes because of other time pressures, or even to reconnect with friends that you lost touch with. Your kids are probably grieving the loss of the previous family structure, and they need to be able to know that there is still ritual that will become tradition, and they are a part of creating that new ritual.
This is especially important for you when you have to split the holidays. No matter how many times you felt like pulling your hair out that the kids were home from school for 2 weeks, being bored and demanding, when the house is suddenly silent and the only sound you hear is the echo of your own footsteps as you walk through the house, it can feel very lonely and isolating. Rather than sitting at home alone, eating ice cream in the dark watching an old black and white movie (unless that is what YOU really like to do for yourself!), create your own rituals for doing things that add emotional energy to your life. Make an appointment to get your nails done with a friend. Call up a friend and arrange to meet for a drink at that new bistro, something you never had time to do before. Think about what you want to do with your holiday season when the kids are there and also when the kids are not there, including what you want to do on the actual holiday.