Going through the first holiday season as a newly divorced or divorcing person can be excruciating.
Not only do you feel out of sorts because your rituals have been disrupted, but it can be awkward for friends and family around you who aren't sure which of you (you or your spouse) to invite this year.
If you have children, there may be additional angst about who will have them and who won't, which times, for how long, what relatives they should see and on and on.
While it's true that by the time next year rolls around, everyone will likely be more accustomed to the arrangements (and you will be all the wiser from the mistakes you made this year), that doesn't help you now!
One woman told me that she was going to create a new ritual of a holiday widows and "orphans" feast - orphans referring to anyone who was alone either as a result of divorce or anyone who was single. She actually invited anyone within ear shot who was single and/or had no destination for a meal and companionship.
This woman didn't seem to care that she was asking people she barely knew. She was simply intent on preventing anyone from being alone who had no family nearby, and who wanted to celebrate Thanksgiving with others.
It's interesting to me how those who are alone seem to have more concern for fellow singles than couples or families do. I can think of a few reasons why this would be the case:
A family might feel a sense of being intruded upon. It's one thing to have a guest for dinner, it's quite another to have a guest for a holiday meal when there is so much emphasis on it being family time. (And, while a family may be perfectly welcoming, a single person may feel like an intruder, which isn't much fun)
A couple or family may not want to add to the sense of loneliness and isolation that a single person observing a connected family unit might experience. Just by virtue of being an intact family it may feel like salt is being rubbed in the wound for a newly divorced or separated single experiencing the contrast.
Lonely single people know and understand the plight of other lonely single people in a way that those who aren't (and have perhaps never been) single don't.
Many men and women will enjoy being single this year, be thrilled to be unencumbered by family and will feel no sense of loneliness when it comes to "the most wonderful time of the year." However, there are quite a few who will wish the season would pass quickly so they can find some relief from the societal pressure to be a member of a couple or family.
My suggestion for anyone who hasn't found a desirable holiday destination with friends or family (and who is experiencing the pressure and the loneliness) is to create a new tradition of your own. Have a widows and orphans gathering in your neighborhood. If you don't want to cook, have a potluck or call a friend and suggest that he or she host the event.
Whatever you do, stay in self-care for the next month or so and make sure you stay away from anyone who might make you feel bad about yourself or your situation.