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What If It’s Not the Most Wonderful Time of the Year? 

December 7, 2021
BY: Lesnevich, Marzano-Lesnevich, O'Cathain & O'Cathain

Multi[ple christmas presents wrapped with bowsCars carry freshly cut Christmas trees, on their way home to be decorated. CyberMonday has come and gone, and people are making lists of gifts to give (and, yes, checking them twice). Television is filled with holiday specials, and carols spill out of the radio. 

Somehow, it’s Christmastime again. Or, as one of those old holiday songs is titled, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” 

But what if it’s not? What if, in addition to the ongoing pandemic or daylight savings dreariness or whatever, you’re not feeling it this year? What if it’s Christmastime… and you’re either separated and/or going through a divorce? What to do then? 

We have three tips that will help you navigate the holiday season if it isn’t the most wonderful time of the year for you. 

  1. Remember, Christmas is primarily for the children. Somewhere in the two-month, over-commodification of Christmas (somewhere between Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas and the annual unveiling of the Starbucks red holiday cup), Christmas, much like Halloween, became a big deal for adults. Now, we’re not being Scrooge-like here: if your heart is in, celebrate all you like! Belt out the tunes to your favorite Christmas playlist on Spotify and mix up a Christmas-themed cocktail for you and your neighbor. But if you’re separated and/or newly divorced and you simply can’t muster the holiday spirit to tack up twinkling lights outside or brave a crowded mall so your children can take a photo with Santa Claus, remember that this is for your children. And all the shopping, the baking, the wrapping, is for the warm Christmas memories your children will have looking back on their childhood. Do a Christmastime thing for your children— and, in the doing, you just may find yourself wrapped up in the spirit of the season. 
  2. Set realistic expectations. This Christmas is most likely going to look different than others. Some traditions that you’ve enjoyed as a family are not going to be possible, or, at the very least, are going to be modified. If your children understand a part of what’s going on with their parents, take time to sit with them and discuss what will change, and what won’t. Be honest with them in level setting their expectations for the holiday (if that means explaining they’ll be at their other parent’s home for part of the day, or that they’re not getting that big gift they want, best to approach it earlier, so they have time to get used to it). Ask them what they want for the holiday? (And that doesn’t just pertain to gifts.) The more communication, the better. 

Of course, that also means setting realistic expectations for yourself. You may no longer have that special someone this holiday season to have a glass of wine with and listen to holiday songs with after the children have gone to bed, or to gift you with that special something on Christmas Day. See if you can find a relative who can drop by for that late night drink, or a friend who you’ll do a gift exchange with. And if not, buy it for yourself! 

  1. Be kind (and that includes to yourself). Like we ‘ve said, whether it’s treating yourself to a gift or simply acknowledging the holi-daze is hard and you need to take a break, be kind. Be kind to everyone you can (including your co-parent) and be kind to yourself. Whether that mean simply slowing down and taking a breath or cheering yourself up by having that extra Christmas cookie, remember it doesn’t have to be the perfect holiday—and that Christmas will come around again next year. 

No matter where you are on your divorce journey, everyone at our firm wishes you a Merry Christmastime! 

The holidays can be some of the toughest times of the year for people considering divorce. If you need help in New Jersey, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the Family Law Department at Lesnevich, Marzano-Lesnevich, O’Cathain & O’Cathain, LLC. Call: (201) 488-1161 at any time or visit