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Thanksgiving and Divorce – Don’t Be the Turkey

The Holiday Season is upon us, often the most stressful time of the year for people in general and particularly so for those contemplating, in the midst of, or post divorce.


Simply surviving your first holiday season intact and eventually enjoying emotionally healthier holidays entails a shift on your part, not the others with whom you will or will not be spending them with. Imagine for a moment that instead of being the center of your holiday experience, much like the turkey on the Thanksgiving buffet, you become the room in which the event is held.


This is not in any way intended to disparage turkeys. Wild and refuge turkeys are social, playful, responsible, curious, and intelligent creatures that have the capacity to fly up to 50 miles an hour. Their lifespan in the wild can be as long as ten years. Domestic turkeys, the ones we eat, get approximately five months from hatching to slaughter and have neither the environment, time, nor breeding that allows for their intelligence or athleticism to develop.


For most American families the Thanksgiving turkey is focal center of the meal. The turkey is assessed for its appearance and how well it has been seasoned and cooked. The side dishes, however delicious, are supporting cast to the turkey. The room on the other hand is more often than not barely noticed. While the tables and decorations may be, the room itself is rarely thought of yet it holds everything that occurs within it free of assessment or judgement.


If Uncle Sal and Aunt Rose are getting boisterous after their fourth drinks, if brother Joe is arguing with your mother about ObamaCare or football, your sister is telling you what you did wrong in your relationship, your step-father is telling you how much better off you are without him/her, your children are with you this year or if they are not, the room is committed to holding everyone, just as they are and as they aren’t. The room “knows” that it is all temporary, however contentious, peaceful, happy, sad, or pleasant or unpleasant the experience of those within it. What’s happening now will be replaced with what happens next, over and over and over again.


If you can approach Thanksgiving with curiosity and allow and observe everyone being him/herself without making your opinions and reactions the center of your attention (or anyone else’s) not only this holiday but the others quickly coming on its heels will be considerably more peaceful and enjoyable. Before you know it it will be January and one more holiday season will have come and gone! While this practice is useful during and post divorce, it is a masterful practice for all of life.


There is no benefit in compounding your grief with isolation this Thanksgiving

If you are considering isolating yourself this Thanksgiving because of your divorce and your grief around the loss of your cohesive (however much it was) family unit, while this is a totally understandable urge, reconsider.  Allow the grief in the room, along with gratitude and the love of friends and/or family. While it may not feel like it, the grief will pass, just like the holidays, and be replaced with all sorts of new experiences – some which you will enjoy and some which you won’t so much. While it may not feel like it now, there is life after divorce. This is how life flows. You can choose the perspective of the room or of the turkey.


If you’re the turkey, you’re cooked! If you are the room, there’s space for everything. The choice is yours.

We invite you to share your fears, struggles, thoughts and strategies for getting through this holiday season.




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