I never knew how hard having your heart away from you could be. I had an idea because I have had it happen in my life, but once I was divorced I didn't know HOW hard it can be.
As the last 10 years have gone by my ex-husband and I have come to work out holidays really well. We have had to work hard at it and put the kids first. We also don't live near each other, and we really haven't since we divorced.
Because the kids have to travel to see their dad, he has made the decision to come visit them during Fall Break instead of having them come visit for Thanksgiving. The amount of travel time for just a few days at Thanksgiving (not to mention the price ... goodbye $3K) just doesn't work out as well. We do switch Christmas every other year. And we do the whole break. We don't have split time on the holiday, it's all or nothing.
As a divorced person, I want to share with you somethings that I do during the times I don't have my kids.
Traditions: I always have had the same traditions in place and I still do them even if I don't have my big kids. Before I married Scott and we had the two littles I did this. It was imperative for me. It gave me a sense of belonging. It gave me control to not feel like I am missing out on something just because my kids were gone. I still baked cookies and put them out for Santa (and later ate them). Doing the same things like you would if your kids are here will help you AND them.
Photos: I always send photos to my kids when they are gone on a holiday letting them know what I (we) am (are) doing. This keeps them involved and lets them know we are keeping up on things. I know that they feel connected to me and our family at home because we have the same traditions every time. When the kids are with me, I send their dad photos so he can see what they are up to.
Emotions: I always allowed myself to feel whatever it is I am feeling when they are gone. I allow myself to cry because I miss them. I allow myself to enjoy the holiday because I am having a good time. Letting yourself feel the emotions will help you to move past the emotion of the day. I remember my first Thanksgiving without the kids. I was invited to several friends homes and declined them all. I sat home, watched movies and cried. I am glad I did that because it gave me the perspective that I shouldn't have missed out on the day. I wasn't better off. I wasn't happier. I was miserable. Had I been helping in a kitchen, eating and creating other memories I would have loved it.
Phone Calls: If my kids are with me I make sure their call their dad. If they are with him, I make sure I call them. I try to be proactive on my needs that day, rather than wait for their call that might not come because they are busy.
When it comes to holidays in a divorce, they aren't easy. But they can be better.