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Debbie Martinez, M.A. Headshot

A Divorce Life Lesson

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Nothing is more depressing than going through the holiday season single. Nothing brings back the pain of a breakup better than the holidays. Decorating the tree and shopping just seems so much more joyful when you are doing it with someone by your side. Well, I would like to share a Christmas story with you that just might warm your heart and help you see this season through different eyes.

It was my daughter's 16th birthday, and what better way to celebrate a birthday in December than to spend it in the most magical place on earth during Christmas -- New York City. As our plane touched down, we were both excited with the anticipation of the lights, Macy's infamous window displays, Rockefeller Center and our jam-packed weekend itinerary.

Walking the streets with all their hustle and bustle along with the crisp smell of winter mingling with the smell of hot pretzels from the street vendors, only added to our Christmas spirit. At dinner, we sat beneath a huge Christmas tree with the warmth of the indoors and during the day we watched the best Broadway had to offer. We jostled shopping bags, hailed taxis when we got tired of walking and F.A.O. Schwarz's candy counter was no match for us.

Sunday brought a steady drizzle and the sky grayed over as we made our way through Bryant Park to catch our car to the airport. As we stepped out of the ivy-covered restaurant bedecked with big, red velvet bows, the crowd engulfed us. I grabbed my daughter's hand and led her down the walkway. As I was searching for my gloves, I heard, "Can you spare some change?"

With the voices of the crowd, I almost missed her whisper. I stopped and turned around to see a small, stout, grey haired woman standing in the middle of the sidewalk, head hung down whispering to people as they passed. No one seemed to notice her. I dug into my purse, walked over to her and handed her a few dollars. We exchanged God-bless-yous, and I returned to where I had left my daughter.

We took a few steps forward and, in unison, turned back around to see her, head hung down, chin trembling. I handed my daughter some more money and watched as she returned to the woman. The woman looked up as my daughter walked away and waved at me. At that moment, I knew what Christmas meant. I approached her and noticed her pants were three sizes too big and her overcoat was held together in the front with a huge safety pin. As I stood there, she looked up at me with questioning eyes, and then I reached down and hugged her. It took her a second and then her arms reached up and hugged me back. Holding me to her, she whispered, "Merry Christmas."

It wasn't the shows or the shoppers or all the lights that filled me with the Christmas Spirit. It was this lone, homeless woman. So this year, as you prepare for the holidays without that special someone in your life, don't give in to feeling sorry for yourself, for there truly is always someone less fortunate than you. Step outside of your aloneness and make someone else feel not so alone and focus not so much on the presents, but in the spirit of giving and learn the difference.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and a new beginning in the New Year.