We all have visions of perfect, traditional Normand Rockwell Thanksgivings and Christmases, with everyone gathered happily around the table or tree. But unfortunately, life is rarely that perfect for anyone and a recent divorce can make a “perfect” holiday even more impossible. However, more and more, we are realizing that families come in many shapes and sizes and that we can create new traditions that meet the needs of our own families.

The first Christmas or Hanukah after a divorce can be especially difficult, both for parents and children. Old traditions may have to come to an end and you may have limited time with your kids. However, if you make a concerted effort to make the holidays joyous once again, it is a great opportunity to start new traditions and make new memories.

Start by asking your children what they enjoy most about the holidays. Do they like meeting Santa, drinking cocoa, reading out loud on Christmas Eve or going on a sleigh ride? Start new, small traditions with your family based on these suggestions. In addition, make new traditions based on your new situation. Help the kids make cards or treats for your ex before they leave on a visit, or pack them a special stocking to take with them to open on Christmas morning. Any holiday routines that make your children more comfortable and more loved can help them transition into their new family structure.

In addition, always be sure that your children know the visitation plan for the holidays. Although it might upset them to be pulled from one parent or another, it is better for them to know the plan if they are old enough to understand. Finally, even though it might be difficult or painful, keep in communication with your ex. Make sure you don’t plan similar events or buy duplicate presents. More importantly, make sure that you both sending positive, loving messages to your kids at this time of year.
Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington