Want some divorce advice that might make your holiday season a little brighter? Read this!
The holiday season is the only time of year when I really don't mind going to my mailbox. Why? Because in addition to bills and junk mail, each day my mailbox is filled with bright, cheery holiday cards from friends and family, most of which have photos of them and/or their children on them. Seeing the cards always puts a smile on my face and warms my heart.
When I was married (and keep in mind, my kids were very young at the time), I would put careful thought into the family holiday card. What it would say, what photo I'd use, what style I wanted, what color. These were really fun decisions! And when I finally ordered the cards, received them and started sending them out, I would get excited putting on the address labels, thinking about the smile the recipient would have on his or her face.
If you think about it, unless you are constantly posting pics to Facebook, the holidays are really the only time of year when people are seeing a photo of your children, and it's definitely the only time of year when anyone is receiving any handwritten correspondence from ANYONE! (With the exception of birthday cards -- but even then, most people have gone to e-cards, which I can't stand!)
When I got divorced, and the holiday season came around, sending a card didn't really enter my mind. Why would it? I wasn't a family anymore. We were broken. Did anyone really want a card from a divorcee and her two kids? That was the first holiday season. I felt the same way during the second holiday season.
The third holiday season from the time I got separated was when I got smart and decided 'Wait a minute! We're still a family and I still want to wish our friends and family a happy holiday!'
Being divorced (or separated) DOES NOT MEAN you aren't a family and that you shouldn't send a FAMILY holiday card. You're just a different family than you used to be.
Be strong. Be tough. Send your holiday cards this year! There's still time. You technically have until January 15th (in my opinion) to get your cards out, and if people receive them after Christmas, they will appreciate them even more because yours will come solo, and not with dozens of others that come right before Christmas!
Receiving a card from you tells people a few things: A. He or she still appreciates the kindness and thoughtfulness of the holidays, and is thereby not making his or her divorce the center of the universe; B. He or she has the grace and confidence that his or her family unit is just as special as people who are married; and C. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year. In other words, just like everyone else, divorced or not, you want your friends and family to have happy holidays and a happy New Year.
Here's what sending cards might do for you. For me, sending holiday cards as a divorced person makes me feel strong, independent and self-assured. It makes me feel like my kids and I are a "normal" family, a family that just like any other family wants to wish everyone goodness, and bring joy and good cheer to our loved ones. It's empowering, and it's sending a message that the spirit of the holiday season doesn't go away because you got divorced.
How do you sign the cards? Hmm... The first couple years I sent them out, I just used our first names, which is okay, but for me, I felt like it made me seem unsure of my last name (which I was). I now use my first and last name, along with my kids first and last names (which are different than mine now.)
Lastly, I want to address the question, does divorce change WHO you are sending the card to? Probably. For example, you might not be sending your soon-to-be ex-in-laws a Christmas card this year. But what about mutual friends, or friends who knew your ex first?
My rule of thumb is, take the high road. If you want to send someone a card, just do it. I bet no one ever said to themselves, "Shoot, I wish I wouldn't have sent a card to so and so." The recipient might be shocked if he or she gets a card from you, probably in a good way, though. Don't worry so much about what people might think. In other words, if you want to wish someone a Merry Christmas, there's no law that says you can't!
Jackie Pilossoph is the author of the blog, Divorced Girl Smiling. She is also the author of her new divorce novel with the same name, as well as her other divorce novel, FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASW. Ms. Pilossoph is a weekly business features reporter and columnist for Sun-Times Media. She lives in Chicago with her two kids. Oh, and she's divorced!