11/19/2014 12:20 pm ET Updated Jan 19, 2015

Going Through a Divorce? Here's a Thanksgiving Recipe for Success!

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How well does divorce pair with Thanksgiving? About as well as car accidents pair with relaxation. In other words, not at all. Divorce is an ugly experience that throws your family into disarray. (Things get better, of course, but it takes time.) Thanksgiving, on the other hand, is a holiday dedicated to being grateful and spending time with family. Oh -- and there's a horn of plenty of work involved, too, what with all the shopping, cooking and cleaning. The pressure of having to pull all of that off while pretending you're filled with gratitude and everything is A-OK is enough to make you want to give everyone the bird.

In case this describes the situation you're in this year, the following is your menu guide to a less stressful holiday.

Have an appetite for change. This year is going to be different, so rather than fight it, simply accept it. By making your peace with the fact that this year will not be like previous ones, you'll give yourself permission to enjoy the holiday however it turns out. And who knows? You might even find that this year is better than the last. Although you're going through a sucky divorce, at least you're not stuck in a bad marriage anymore. Yay, progress!

Don't let tensions boil over. Emotionally speaking, you're stretched thin; so it's important not to bite off more than you can chew. You've got the divorce card this year -- don't be afraid to play it. Turn expectations down low and keep everything as simple as possible. Make fewer dishes and stick with ones that you enjoy. A pared down menu featuring food you like to cook and eat will help keep bad feelings on the back burner.

All hands on duck -- I mean turkey. Conventional wisdom holds that too many cooks in the kitchen are a bad thing; but this is not a conventional year. If you're the one who has traditionally done most of the heavy lifting for Thanksgiving, carve yourself some slack. Consider asking someone else to host this year; or structure the holiday as a potluck, and have everyone bring a dish.

Don't set a place at the table for resentment. Given that you're getting a divorce, your marriage likely passed its sell-by date some time ago. Rather than harboring resentments, take a holiday from them -- and consider making it a permanent vacation. Appreciate the fact that you don't have to worry about your marital frustrations or disappointments anymore. This is the year to inaugurate new traditions. Make them positive ones.

Don't be afraid to wing it. If you don't have the kids this holiday -- or you don't have kids at all -- and none of this sounds like fun to you, there's no reason why you can't whip up something completely different this year. Spend the weekend binge watching movies with friends, or get the heck out of town. In other words, take a vacation from the holiday. By the time next Thanksgiving rolls around, things will be better, I promise.