Divorce and the Holidays: The Gift You Never Expected

divorce holidays

Gift giving is a core part of the holiday season. For those who are separated or divorced, it can be a complicated and confusing practice.

Not only may you feel financially strapped, but you may wonder to whom it is appropriate to give gifts. Or fearful that your ex, your family, or your “friends” may not approve of your gestures, even when executed with the best of intention. You may be feeling like the scrooge who has nothing to give, or like you need to give to compensate for everything you feel lacking in your life… Indeed, it is complex…

Let me offer a new way to approach giving this holiday season… How about instead of focusing on everyone else, honing in on the person who needs your attention the most: YOU. You can be the gift to yourself and others that you never expected.

For many, such an act can seem selfish or contrary to the nature of the season, but the reality that undergirds this essential endeavor is that you cannot give to others what you cannot give to yourself first.

The best gift you can give others, especially during your divorce process and the holiday season, is your strongest self. From such a place of abundance, what others need and want from you will naturally flow. Instead of operating from a place of obligation, depletion or reactivity, you will be working from a place of authenticity, plenitude and thoughtfulness. What could be better, for all involved!?

What would it look like to put yourself on the top of your holiday gift giving list this year? What does the person deep within really need and long for? Feed that yearning. You are hungry for a reason.

As a recent divorcee myself, this year I will be without my two children, as they will be with my ex and his family. My family is on the other side of the country. At first, I felt sad, but then I realized I have a huge opportunity here: to invest in myself with self-care, and to put intention around moving into the new year feeling empowered and restored.

I plan to go on a retreat where I will be able to partake in wellness classes, allow myself to breathe in the beauty of the natural surroundings, and indulge in a massage or facial. I also intend to use the time for solitude – to be my own best friend, as opposed to succumb to mere loneliness, which is the ache that wants other people or things to take away my pain.

I do not mean to suggest that the company of and/or giving of gifts to others is inherently bad. Of course not! Instead, I’m offering the notion that giving yourself these things first puts you in a better place to naturally offer them to others.

In my experience, the more I invest in myself, the better I become at discerning to whom and what I need to give and be to others. For example, in offering compassion and forgiveness to myself, I realized that there was someone in my life who needed just that from me. That realization led me to ask: What can I give to her that represents compassion and forgiveness?
The result of this pondering was a homemade card with my offering of heartfelt words. I believe it was of much greater value for both of us than a mere floral delivery or traditional holiday greeting.

What are you feeling called to give to yourself this holiday season? Listen closely… You are worth it. And trust that what others need and want from you will naturally flow from such a plentiful place.

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Marie W. TenBrook

About Marie W. TenBrook

Marie W. TenBrook is a Certified Divorce Coach who helps divorcees make best decisions that honor themselves and respect the well-being of all involved, empowering them to come out on the other side healthier, happier, at peace, and eager to embrace what's ahead. She is also published author and blogger, inspirational speaker, and divorcee and mother of two who is passionate about accompanying others from lives of trauma to transformation.

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