Well, ladies, the holidays are upon us. And you just made it through Thanksgiving... perhaps solo for the first time in years. Not so easy, is it?
Hopefully, you didn't make the same mistakes I did on that first feast without my "other half."
The Norman Rockwell version of Thanksgiving stopped working for me at some point. Though I come from a huge family and loved the tradition as a kid, the issues kicked in as I got older and found myself in the wretched kitchen feeling like hired help, cleanin' up or stirrin' up for fifteen guests minimum. Ugh. Now, on this first Thanksgiving, liberated from his huge family and from my enormous brood because they gave me a (loving) dispensation, I decided to focus on a nontraditional blowout with my sidekick and buddy, newly stag for her first fete as well.
I focused on the part of Thanksgiving I love best (besides the gratitude, truly): The day-after triple decker KILLER sandwiches made with the works... de rigueur dark turkey, artery cloggin' stuffing, cranberries, gravy, mayo and every other condiment you could think of... only to find out, when my pal arrived, that she was 100% vegetarian and was gonna skip the turkey, the stuffing, the cranberries and focus on the green salad. Who knew?!?
Eating a massive hoagie across the table from a pseudo-vegetarian in my kitchen just didn't cut it. I felt alone and miserable. I missed all the trimmings, all the dramas, all the chaos, all the loving... and even the clean up part that is part of being a "couple" and sharing holidays together.
My buddy and I made up for this shabby beginning later over cocktails at a surprisingly lively bar. Thanksgiving shmanksvgiving! It's a festive time of year to be out and about! But still... lessons were learned. A little planning ahead would have made me realize, particularly with this pal, that a great restaurant or bar was where it's at... or a night of onion dip and wheat thins. Truly nontraditional!
So now we have Christmas upon us and there are more lessons to be gleaned. Two years after those first holiday challenges, I can tell you that tackling this season alone can be hard... or it can be liberating. It's probably gonna be a little bit of both... but we're gonna focus on the positive.
Here are some lessons from the holiday trenches so that you can say, "Hey, I am okay. I am MORE then okay -- I am f'ing fabulous,"and really mean it.
1. Celebrate no obligations.
Be grateful for the obligatory stuff you DON'T have to do any more. Celebrate THAT, sistuhs! Obligations to friends, to family, to people that maybe you don't really want to spend time with... let it go. Let the others be stuck in traffic. If you want to give yourself a pass from any family, do that! Take a break from the stress of buying presents. This year, you might consider doing everything... for YOU. Wanna jump on a plane and visit somewhere HE would never have wanted to visit? Do it! Tempted to go to a retreat for that week and disconnect from the world of emails, cell phones and Facebook, tuning in to yourself for ten days instead? Now that's something you never would have done while in the relationship. DO IT! But if you are contemplating any of this...
2. Prepare now.
Get your planning done NOW. EVERYONE is busy and everyone has obligations, so jump on it. No one has time to dwell on your shit. Force yourself to think about it: Where do you wanna be for New Year's and just whom do you wanna be with? Go get yourself some sunshine, girlfriend! Solo travel is a growing trend. Not necessarily "single" travel, which means you are cruising, but solo travel. You can splurge in Bali, you can go dirt cheap with assisted backpacking in Peru or you can learn French horizontally on a beach in Martinique. You get the picture... get BEYOND those four walls. Have an adventure. But a major lesson is...
3. Do not spend the holidays alone
This is key. You don't want to have some sad sack experience, eating a TV dinner, drinking wine from a box and watching Charlie Brown's Christmas, which, let's face it, is the saddest damned movie ever. If you don't wanna spent Christmas with your family, don't wanna travel and don't wanna spend the day with friends and being part of your social circle, then consider...
Being busy makes you feel better. And serving others in need gets you outside of your head. You start to feel better because you're helping others feel better. Simple.
6. Decorate. Celebrate.
The holidays were special for my ex and me. Buying the tree was a huge deal. We'd decorate for hours, placing the star up top last, exhausted from the crucial placement of tinsel and candy canes. There was no garland, ever. He thought garlands were tacky. That first year, I got myself a goddamned tree. And decorated it... WITH A GARLAND.
6. Now, about that white elephant in the room...
Remember that the holidays do f*ck everyone up. Try not to idealize the person and the times you had together, 'cause really, nostalgia will set in. Nostalgia, surrounded by holiday craziness can lure you back and make the memories and the man something they/he was not. Accept that you will do this anyway, but know that it will lessen over time. Accept that you may miss him on Christmas Eve. But now, it's about you. And then, move on. Pass the hot wine, bitches...
7. Channel yourself a little Louise Hay.
This next year is gonna be the best year of your life. Say it out loud and then, get ready for the renewal of 2013 and all that it will bring. On December 31st, look at yourself in the mirror, pat yourself on the back and say GOOD JOB GIRL. What you've been through has taken courage and strength and you need to celebrate yourself.
And then everything will go back to normal in January. The lights will come down. Perry Como will shut up. And you will have survived your first holiday season alone. Your breakup has not been a tragedy... it's been an opportunity. And I can tell you, ladies, from the other side -- life just gets better and better 'cause you have dug deeper. Let go of your old story -- reinvent yourself this year!
Maryjane Fahey is the coauthor with Caryn Beth Rosenthal of DUMPED, a breakup bible for women to get off their asses and over their exes in record time. AVAILABLE NOW. Find, tweet, facebook, whatever them... they're very friendly.
BTW: We think outside the "box" and are having our next book signing at where else? BABELAND -- the most glamorous sex shop in SoHo! First 25 Pocket Rockets on the house with a purchased copy of DUMPED... just sayin'! It's this year's quirky Christmas stocking stuffer, chicas!