Here at Wevorce, we’re no stranger to the idea of divorce being a complex and often difficult transition — particularly around the holidays. So when families tell us they’re struggling this time of year, we know all too well how that feels.

“Holiday seasons have been rough over my life,” says Wevorce Family Specialist Lou Engelhardt. “My parents decided to divorce in early November when I was a junior in high school and it was not an amicable divorce. So, needless to say, the pattern of holidays being repeats of loss began young.”

“However, as my own kids came along,” she continues, “we got better at them, and I learned that movies and easy meals were part of the solution. Going to see a movie at the theater has become one of my favorite activities around the holidays, as it gets me out of myself and provides a different story/perspective. We usually choose one that will bring laughter, and this creates something to visit about after.

We asked Lou and a few other Wevorce team members to provide some practical tips and wisdom to help our readers get through this time of year — even when it’s difficult. Here’s what they had to share on the topics of spending Christmas alone, moving through grief, and creating new traditions.

Fela Scott, Document Specialist

“For some reason, people view spending Christmas Day alone as a mixed bag. I’ve had co-workers and friends who’ve reacted in completely opposite ways.

Some get this glossy-eyed look of envy, the stress of the holidays putting them on a one-way track to a less than ho-ho-ho event every year. The shopping, wrapping, the cooking and baking, awkward social events, and family stress robbing them of the true joy of Christmas.

Then there are those who are shocked — in their minds it’s just not right to spend Christmas alone! Don’t get me wrong, I usually have gracious friends and family who invite me to celebrate with them. I’m grateful for their loving kindness to include me, but I choose to spend the day alone.

Okay, I confess, sometimes I join friends for an early dinner out. Then, with leftovers in hand, I’m set for the rest of the day. But if that doesn’t happen, I have an easy to put together, traditional turkey dinner that’s canned, boxed, and jarred. Really. And it’s good. No long hours of cooking required, yet plenty to eat.

My tradition includes spending the day in cozy, flannel pajamas, (green and red plaid of course) watching classic Christmas movies. Some of my favorites include White Christmas, Holiday Inn, and Christmas in Connecticut. I even have a John Wayne movie, Donavan’s Reef, I include as they celebrate Christmas in it.

Or, I may switch things up and toss in non-Christmas classics I have on hand. I’m especially partial to Cary Grant, my favorites being Father Goose, Walk Don’t Run and Operation Petticoat. Who could not be happy watching this line-up?

Oh, and it’s an absolutely no work day. Doing what I want, the way I want, and when I want. How could that be wrong?”

Lou Engelhardt, Family Specialist:

“Give yourself permission to have a day of grief — play sad movies, music, write sad things, cry like a baby and let it all out! Then get out and do something for someone else.

Find a group. Churches/synagogues can be great groups if you look carefully and find someplace where the message resonates with you — don’t feel stuck with one you don’t like. The church in my neighborhood in Boise was amazing; they were always doing group activities to improve the lives of those who lived in the neighborhood. It did not feel I had to agree with everything they said; I just got the benefit from their joyous attitudes and energy.

Since our move, I have found four different church groups I appreciate for different reasons and it has helped us connect quickly and find ways to get outside ourselves and become a part of this community!”

Sarah Christenson, Chief Love Officer:

“This stigma surrounding being single drives me nuts. You’re not single because no one loves you. You’re single because you chose to love yourself first. And our greatest love isn’t something written in The Notebook or shown on Lifetime. Our greatest love story is about the love and relationship we have with ourselves.

Some people go their entire lives and never truly know who they are or how they deserve to be loved. They’re too afraid of feeling vulnerable, uncomfortable and awkward. But little do they know on the other side of those temporary feelings dwell strength, courage, and worthiness. Some say you find love when you stop looking for it but I think it’s when you find yourself that you also find love.”

Happy holidays, all. We hope you are surrounded by love and we wish you the peace and joy that come with creating new traditions for yourself and your family.