The holidays are a really, really tough time of year for singletons. When the rest of the world has visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads, the recently single are focusing on how to answer the endless questions from meddling relatives and the loneliness that goes hand-in-hand with being single during the holidays.
But it doesn’t have to be quite that bad. Yes, you’re no longer part of your former “family”, but think of the positives. No more boring family get-togethers (and no more nagging mother-in-law), no more Santa Claus and definitely crying babies. It will be a Silent Night for sure!
One of the ways that I made it through my first holiday season post-divorce was to create my own holiday traditions in order to move further away from the traditions that I created with my ex. I recommend that you do the same. Figure out what makes you the happiest about the holidays – be it boozy cocktails and overeating, or family and friends, spend the holidays building memories for yourself for the years to come.
Here are some of my brand-new single girl holiday traditions. Feel free to steal them for yourself… and you don’t even need to give me the credit for the cheery, Christmas-y good times you’ll have!
Ice skating in Nathan Phillips Square
I am a huge fan of all things Christmas so old-school traditions like ice skating, surrounded by twinkling lights and warming my belly with spiked hot chocolate, is heaven for me. Put on your best pair of rented skates, hold hands with a random sweetie and celebrate the holidays one of the best ways possible – falling on your ass in front of strangers. Don’t worry, the spiked hot chocolate will take the edge off.
Excessive overeating (& then lots of jogging in the New Year)
I love to eat. Love it, love it, love it. You’d be surprised how much unhealthy, fattening food I am able to consume every year. And during the holidays, I’m in fine form. While I can’t truly compete with my cousins who have a yearly contest to see who can gain the most weight in one sitting, I have definitely earned an honourable mention in the overeating category. Turkey stuffing is basically my favourite food, so each year I indulge my love of stuffing (and chocolate, and candy cane-shaped cookies, and shortbread cookies, and ham, and turkey) in a pretty regular stream of deliciousness. Yah, maybe it’s not the healthiest of traditions but you know what? It makes me happy as a pig in turkey stuffing. Yumm.
Make it a special holiday for someone you love
Don’t hate me because of how cheesy this sounds, but ever since I adopted my dog-baby Osgoode, I love the holidays even more. This year is his first Christmas and I’ve already started planning the festivities. He’s going to have wrapped presents, a stocking full of treats, maybe even a portrait with Santa. I’ve already been teaching him to unwrap presents (by hiding bacon in a wrapped box and letting him go crazy to find the treats) and hopefully by Christmas Day, he’ll want to open anything covered in wrapping paper in order to get his treats.
So yah, I’m a bit of a dog nerd, but seeing him happy and well-fed makes me the happiest divorcee in the history of the world. Or at least the GTA (because I’m sure divorcees in Hawaii are much happier than little ol’ me, freezing her butt of in Toronto).
As well as creating your own traditions, post-split holidays are also about deciding what former traditions you’d like to keep in your life going forward. A big part of my childhood Christmas memories revolved around tree ornaments. Every single year, my parents would create a custom ornament for my sister and I. When I was going through a Doc Martens phase in the 90s, they created a wooden, painted Doc Marten boot. When I became a wino (oh wait, that’s been every year since my divorce!), I got an ornament in the shape of a wine glass with holly wrapped around the stem.
So when I was planning my own holiday traditions, I decided that Christmas wouldn’t be the same for me without decorating and without the Christmas tree ornaments that I grew up with. My Christmas tree is still covered with ornaments made by my parents to celebrate my life and all of the holidays of my past. And for me, that is one part of my history that I would never throw out with the bathwater (and my ex-husband).
Niagara Falls Christmas lights
I find it amazing how few locals have ever experienced the lights of Niagara Falls during the holidays. It’s a veritable smorgasbord of holiday fun, with light installations of all of the best Disney movies all lined up in a row. From Beauty & the Beast to Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs, there are street blocks of lights and holiday cheer along the Canadian side of the falls. It’s quite majestic to see the lights projected over the falls, reflecting off of the particles of water shimmering in the air. And once in awhile (much less often since global warming) the snow on the trees along the path will be frozen over with the mist from the Falls and you’ll get to experience a truly amazing sight: trees covered with six inches of frozen, gleaming snow. It’s a Winter Wonderland for sure!
The Distillery District Christmas Market
Last but not least, the Distillery District Christmas Market is a fantastic place to get in the holiday spirit. I went for the first time last year with my boyfriend (who was very anti-Xmas) and we bonded over Hot Toddies, Christmas carols and holiday cheer. Two guesses who is as excited as me about Christmas (and the Christmas Market) this year… that’s right, Mr. Anti-Xmas himself.
So if you’re reading this article, feeling sad about the upcoming holidays, take heed: a trip to the Christmas Market in the Distillery will be exactly the holiday upper that you need. (I know, I know. I’m shaking my own head at how cheesy I get during the holidays.)
Remember: you will make it though this holiday season. Very soon it will be January and then everyone else will feel as miserable (and cold) as you do. So plaster a fake smile on your face and make the most of the best part of the holiday season post-breakup: copious amounts of alcohol!
Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays to all!