Don’t Let Grinch Steal Christmas While You are Going Through Divorce

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( — November 18, 2013) West Bend, Wisconsin — If you are going through divorce or legal separation, plan new and different holiday traditions for you and your children. Divorce and legal separation are often difficult and emotional any time of the year, but emotions are higher during the holiday season. Take action to make sure you and your children have new traditions from Thanksgiving through New Years Day.

That doesn’t mean giving up on old traditions, such as Thanksgiving dinner or opening gifts on Christmas Eve, but it does mean there may be different people seated around the Thanksgiving table or celebrating Christmas with you. Make plans in advance so that important days do not sneak up on you and your children with nowhere to go and nothing to do.

Take action now to make this year’s holidays important and memorable. Consider taking the following actions and avenues:


  • The last thing you want to see is your children dreading the holiday season, so make sure your children know that it is okay for them to also make plans with your ex and his family. Talk in advance about your plans for Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, New Years, etc., to make sure the holidays are shared by both you and your ex.  Delineate specific dates and times each of you will spend with the children
  • Try something different.  Instead of celebrating Christmas with lunch at Grandma and Grandpa’s, try breakfast or brunch.  If you generally have an artificial Christmas tree, go out into the woods and chop a real tree. Decorate it with popcorn and homemade ornaments, or just a combination of your regular ornaments and a few new ones to celebrate the new direction of your life.
  • If the kids are going to be with your ex, make plans with a friend. Encourage your children to have fun with their mom or dad, even if you are going to be alone.  Check out a spa or do something special. Take a walk in the snow, or just around the block. Make popcorn balls.  Read a book. Listen to jazz instead of Christmas carols. Invite other single parents or friends over for a potluck dinner.  Consider visiting out of town friends or relatives.
  • Volunteer. You may be able to serve dinner or breakfast to the homeless or the elderly or at a home for the disabled. There are plenty of folks worse off than you, plenty of people lonelier…sicker…in need of a friend. This will take your mind off your own worries, and you will feel the real spirit of the holidays, helping others.
  • Try to get into the spirit of the season. Remember that your love and attention are the best gifts you can give your children. Try making your Christmas gifts. Do not get into a financial competition with your ex to determine who can purchase the bigger, more expensive gifts. Establish new traditions with your children, but don’t be afraid to privately grieve for the relationship lost.  In order to move forward, it is necessary to look back to learn from the past.
  • Keep your expectations reasonable. Every family is unique, not perfect.  Remember the adage, treat family members like friends and treat friends like family members. This Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Years will probably be stressful, so have some backup plans if things go wrong. Feel grateful. Don’t let the trials and tribulations of going through a divorce or legal separation take away the opportunity to be thankful for the positives in your life, including your children.  Feel free to say no sometimes. Put yourself first, if you are tired or just want some time to contemplate and think.
  • Remember, New Years is right around the corner. A time for starting fresh and looking ahead for the good things to come.  Relax and enjoy the days to come.

Attorney Linda Vanden Heuvel of Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C., realizes that whether or not you have a successful West Bend divorce is not only determined in the courtroom. Successful divorce also centers around day-to-day activities, continued relationships and the ability to learn from the past, while focusing on the future.


Vanden Heuvel was recently featured in both the New York Times and for her strong advocacy on behalf of pregnant women caught in the legal system.  Also scheduled for publication in 2014 is Divorce in Wisconsin, the Legal Process, Your Rights, and What to Expect, by Attorney Linda S. Vanden Heuvel.

Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C.

246 S 5th Ave.
West Bend, Wisconsin 53095

(262) 338-8874