While the holiday season is typically recognized as a time of warmth, gift giving and family, there are some people who have a hard time getting through the season. Many are stricken with grief, dread and pain when this time of year comes around. It’s an often-unmentioned reality, but with the emphasis put on family, the holiday season is difficult for those of us who don’t have a nuclear family to celebrate with.
As a gal with divorced parents, I struggle especially. Before the fall semester ended, my friends talked about the plans they had to go on family vacations and to attend family dinners. After the stress surrounding exams subsided, I found myself struggling with which parent I would spend the holidays with, how I could find time for both my mom and my dad and an overwhelming desire to spend just an hour with everybody in one room, getting along, pretending to be a family. I was so jealous of my friends who were going home.
It shocked me that I could feel so alone in a season of togetherness. I felt like I was the only one who knew that pain, even though I knew that wasn’t true. I was lost in my despair, wanting nothing more than to sit with my mom, dad and little brother, pretending that Christmas was saved. My days were filled with self-pity and anger towards those who put me in such a foul position.
And then a miracle happened. In a turn of events involving a terrifying car accident on a bridge and showing up a day late to Christmas dinner, my Christmas plans changed. I got the best Christmas present I could have ever asked for. I sat on the couch for an hour with my dad, talking to my mom and brother, enjoying some of my aunt’s delicious trifle.
I realize that not as many people are as lucky as I was. I realize that many other families were separated as they celebrated the holidays. There have been holidays spent alone. There have been special events that I missed because I sat in my room feeling lonely. As I write this, I want people with divorced parents not to lose hope in the holiday season. Joy can still be found, even if the joy is from knowing that you are not alone in your misery. To pull myself out of the darkness, I think about the blessings in my life and the good that has far exceeded the bad. If all else fails, find joy with whomever you’re with. There are ways to find joy in a season of darkness, and there is support for those who feel alone.