It makes me crazy to see all of the Christmas status updates on facebook and to hear the first of the holiday music on the radio¦I mean REALLY! Do we have to start all of this NOW??

Ever since my own divorce six years ago, the holidays have never been the same. No, they have not been bad or unpleasant; they have just been different than they were when I was married.

Each year when November 1 comes around, I begin to think about Thanksgiving, Christmas (in my case Chanukah) and the New Year. I begin to ask myself all of the questions that need to get answered so that I can begin to create my own holiday plan for the season. The questions I always ask are:

1. What does my custody schedule look like?

2. What is my budget for the holiday season?

3. What do I want the holidays to look and feel like with my kids and my family?

4. What will make me happy this year?

So, the answers are not always easy but these questions give me what I need to create a plan for holiday success. Let me share with you what I mean.

clip_image001What does my custody schedule look like?

So the first question to be answered is the reality of the situation or what your custody schedule is for the year. I pull out a calendar for November and December and put in all of the days that the kids are with me and the days that they are with their father. I recognize that you and I may have different custody schedules so it is important to look at when you have your children early in the season so that you are prepared to set plans around this schedule.

Some years I have the kids on Thanksgiving, and some years I do not. Some years I have the kids for the 1st night of Chanukah, and some years I do not. The same goes for New Year’s Eve and so knowing the schedule for the year helps me to begin to design the plan

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What is my budget for the holiday season?

This is a question that is on everyone’s mind¦separated, divorced OR married. It is important to clarify what your real budget is and to create a financial holiday plan that is realistic and honest. There are many ways to create an amazing holiday celebration that does not include big spending, it just means being creative and open to possibilities!

Once you have clarity around what your budget is, you can then begin to design how you want to spend your money to maximize your celebrations!

clip_image005What do I want the holidays to look and feel like with my kids and my family?

This is a question that may involve a bit more introspection. How you celebrate the holidays with your children may be dependent on their ages. Having two teenage boys, I have found that engaging them in a conversation around how they want to celebrate the holidays can be really helpful in designing my holiday plan. Last year, I made the decision that what I really wanted was to spend time with the kids¦not just have dinner or brunch together and open gifts. I wanted to do something that was fun and that they would remember, and that lasted more than an hour.

So, we all took the train into NYC, walked around and enjoyed the splendor of the holiday windows, the Christmas tree in Rockefeller Center and fun, unstructured time together. I gave them a pre-determined amount of money each as their gift and told them that they could spend it on anything they wanted. We went to all of their favorite stores and I was able to share in the joy of seeing them choose a gift that made them really happy!

clip_image006As well, on holidays when I don’t have my children, I don’t always want to be with family¦sometimes it is just too painful for me to celebrate as a family, without them. Instead of just going along with everyone else’s plan, I often will create a time to celebrate the holiday, together with family, when I do have the kids, even if it is not on the actual date of the holiday, but around it. I have let go of what is supposed to be and what ideally works for me. Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be on Thursday, there is no punishment should it be celebrated on Wednesday or Friday. Rather, we have the opportunity to design our celebrations in a way that meets our needs.

Then, I can create other celebrations and plans for those days that I don’t have my children¦with friends, by myself or with a group from www.meetup.com or another social club.

What will make me happy this year?

When is the last time that you asked yourself this question? Do you know what will make you happy over the holidays?

Perhaps you want to create a new celebration with friends and colleagues who don’t have family or are themselves alone during the holidays?

Or, perhaps you want to get away, alone for a couple of days and spend some time reflecting on where you are going and how you are going to get there?

Or, even still, perhaps you want to break tradition now that you are separated/divorced, even if that may make some people in your life uncomfortable or even angry. While there may be a cost to honoring how you feel, there is also a cost NOT to honor it.

Part of moving forward through and after divorce is to begin to step fully into your own personal power by honoring what you need and want, even if it makes other uncomfortable. As long as you are able to articulate what you want and why with clarity and compassion, it is liberating to step out and walk in your true desires.

Many of my clients struggle during this time of the year with acting on their true desires. They fear hurting or upsetting anyone by changing what was¦what has always been. The reality, however, is that things are not the same anymore. They are different now, and that is okay. Change always feels uncomfortable.clip_image009

So again, should you feel that you need support to step fully into your own personal power and design a holiday plan that meets your needs and desires, don’t hesitate to reach out and set up a time for your Holiday SOS coaching session! You are not alone and deserve to have a joyous and fulfilling holiday season!

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