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Navigating the holidays after a divorce

Throughout Georgia, the many people who have separated or been divorced from their spouses in the last year are preparing to spend their first holiday without their spouse. Regardless of whether you have children or of the situation that led to your divorce, your first holiday alone will likely be a difficult one.

In a recent article in The Huffington Post, family law attorney M. Marcy Jones recounts her own experience during her first Christmas without her husband and children. She says that she expected the day to be a quiet, calm day spent alone, but in reality it was a deeply emotional and fairly traumatic experience. In the years that followed, she says that she has developed a method for handling the holidays alone.

First, Jones says, it is essential to make a plan well in advance. Get out some paper and write down what you are going to do on the actual holidays. Where will you go? Who will you be with? What will you do? If you don't have answers to these questions, she says, find them. Surround yourself with family and friends, and plan some activities that will keep you busy. Cook for loved ones, go ice skating, plan a movie marathon, or anything that will keep you occupied.

When you write down your plan, Jones says, make sure to ask yourself two important questions: What will you think about on the holiday? What will you not let yourself think about? It's perfectly okay to be sad on Christmas, as long as you are prepared for it.

Finally, begin new traditions. Your old holiday traditions may no longer be possible, so it's time to start some new ones. Think of a fun activity to do with your kids or extended family, and you will already be looking forward to the next holiday season.

Source: The Huffington Post, "3 Steps to Surviving Christmas for the Newly Separated or Divorced," M. Marcy Jones, Dec. 22, 2011

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