Holidays can be a great time of year, especially if you have special people in your life to celebrate with you. For those of us with children, the holidays are an especially magical time. I have to admit, I’ve never experienced a greater joy than seeing my son’s face Christmas morning, as he dashes over to the stockings at the crack of dawn to see what Santa has brought for him. Same thing with the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy– although I’m pretty sure this might be the final year that he’ll still truly believe in all those characters.

For those in an unhappy situation or recently separated/divorced, however, the holidays are a particularly difficult time. Find friends to join you in the festivities and treat yourself to something fun. Sometimes, you have to find your own fun and make your own adventures, until you find the right one to share your time and celebrate with you.

Often, in an estranged relationship, a person will have a difficult time coming up with gift ideas for the other parent. A home-made card or art project from the child is always a great idea, or even a Hallmark card with a gift card at least acknowledges the occassion. For those with children, I truly encourage you to think about the impact on those innocent little ones, who would not be here but for that other person who helped create them. You don’t have to go overboard, but a token gift from the child to his/her other parent sends an important message to the child.

I have heard parents, who try to assert that all holidays should remain with one parent– for the child’s sake, so the child is not confused or worried that Santa or the Easter Bunny won’t come. Half jokingly, I try to point out that as parents, part of what we can tell our children is that among the many magical powers that Santa and the Easter Bunny have is a tracking device that tells them where all children will be on that holiday. Seriously, I understand how hard it is as a parent to miss out on certain moments, but imagine then how that other parent must feel– or how that child would feel if s/he never got to spend some special holiday moments and make some lasting memories with the other one that helped bring him/her into this world.

Ultimately, I find holidays can be the best times to figure out where you are versus where you want to be. I think back to last year, when my son was with his dad for the holidays and I decided to clean out my closets. In doing so, I found my uncle’s card from 20 years ago. With just one phone call, an entire family was transformed. Amazing to think what a difference one year alone has made. So my point is this– even if you are not where you want to be right now, knowing that is half the battle. The power to change our own reality is within our own control. Use the holidays to gauge what you have to be thankful for, and plan for what you have yet to achieve.

By Regina A. DeMeo, Esq.