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Start a Friendsgiving Tradition After Divorce

Divorce changes the dynamic for family gatherings and holiday events. It's a new world to navigate, and it takes a little time to make the adjust.

Since Thanksgiving is about connection and hospitality, and not about gifts, it's a great time to create new traditions around this holiday. It's time to gather new and old friends, family, neighbors and co-workers all together for a "framily" meal. The original holiday with the Pilgrims was all about generosity and inclusivity, so let's get back to those roots in our current-day celebrations.

With a divorce, it's time to shed the past and usher in the new. Friendsgiving is a great way to do that. You can host or co-host, accept an invitation to another event or find a place to eat out. Anyway to decide to gather, do it as a group of people having fun and enjoying one another's company.

Since Friendsgiving is usually a less formal event, rid yourself of all of the stuffy norms. Ditch the china and crystal, and get into the spirit of fun and festivities. Maybe make your meal a brunch rather than a dinner. I mean, who doesn't like a waffle bar or omelet station? If you do a dinner, make it potluck. Bring in a variety of traditional or eclectic foods. Maybe make a recipe book for everyone attending to share the love throughout the year. Instead of the tried-and-true pumpkin pie, maybe do an ice cream bar with pumpkin bread base and caramel toppings. Play some games, put on music or a movie in the background and keep the mood light and fun.

If the kids are with you for the holiday, invite friends with kids as well so they can all entertain one another. If your kids are with your ex, make sure they know that you will miss them and will think of them often. Encourage them to have fun with dad and family. Let them know you have plans and will be visiting with friends; that you won't be alone or lonely. They will have a tendency to worry about you, so putting their minds at ease before they hop off for the day or weekend with dad will help them stress less about you and have more fun away. Be sensitive and validate their feelings through these changes to help them cope better.

Spending time with friends can help you cope better with the changes through the holidays, boost your mood and give you a little distraction. But, be sure to take some time for yourself. Don't fill those days without the kids crammed full of activities that don't allow you to connect with your emotions. Relax -- read, hike, take an extra-long shower, do your hair and make-up. Filling every waking second with busy activities only tamps down possible negative or lonely feelings rather than dealing with them. Unfortunately, they have a way of bubbling to the surface at the most inopportune times. Face those emotions head-on and let them pass through, allowing you to enjoy your time at Friendsgiving even more.

Though the holidays can prove to be a difficult time emotionally, plan ahead so you can make the most of the season, caring for yourself and children well through the changes.

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