Surviving the Holidays… Alone

Divorce Sucks

November is quickly passing by, and I know that Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I am beginning to wonder what I am going to do without my family for this holiday.

Thanksgiving is a big holiday for my family. We travel all over the state of Florida to enjoy each others company and a meal. This day is filled with the laughter of cousins, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. It’s our annual family gathering.

But this year will not be the same. This will be the first Thanksgiving that I will spend without my little girls. I know that there are many families out there that experience the same thing. Whether your children are with the other parent, your spouse is in the military or family to spread too far apart to travel for one day, surviving the holidays without your loved ones is not easy.

As I begin to experience this journey of being a single mom, I have been asking many of my friends what plans they have for this day of Thanks. How am I going to be Thankful when the two most important people in my life will not be with me? I have discovered that I have taken for granted the assumption of being together. My eyes have opened to the number of families that face this same challenge for different reasons.

Here are a few great words of advice that I found!

From Military Wives:

“Plan ahead and know that the holiday is going to be different. Start early and know that things will take more time without your other half. Know that things will take more time without them and you may have to plan on asking others for help with your kids so you can run errands.”

“If you make your holiday plans well in advance, you have time to embrace and adjust it. You also have a chance to start putting a positive twist on the holiday and how it will affect your kid. Don’t focus on the other parent not being there but getting hyped up about the fun stuff that will be coming your way for the holiday.”

“Start your shopping early. One year my Christmas shopping was completed before the end of October. The holidays are stressful moments with or without your partner. By knocking out some of the todo list ideas ahead of time is a great gift that you can give to yourself.”

“Do some of the holiday traditions that are special to you and your kids before your spouse leaves. Even if that means hanging Christmas lights in the first week of November regardless of what the neighbors think.”

Making a Lasting Impression:

I had a girlfriend whose husband knew he would be deployed for Christmas. Because he knew Christmas would not be the same without him, he put up Christmas lights in July. In October, his 16-year-old daughter was coming home from her first date. It was a big milestone that he would miss. Before she got home, his wife turned on the Christmas lights. Her dad wasn’t there to greet the young man when he come to put up his daughter, but they were both reminded how much he loved her when the house was lit up in October.

Family and Friends to the Rescue:

“My friends and family have been so supportive during the holidays when my husband is gone. They make sure we have somewhere to be, or they come to our house. As the kids older, it gets harder because they are aware he is gone, and they understand the gravity of daddy being away on a holiday. When a friend picks up the ball in the juggle, it not only helps the situation but it also reminds you to give thanks for those around you.”

“As a single parent, my friends become my family when I do not have my children. I join in on their traditions and enjoy their holiday. This is experience makes me appreciate the supportive circles of friends that I have in my life.”

Create New Traditions:

Accept that the holiday will be different. Figure out what traditions will be the same and what ones you can change up. The holiday can still be joyous with a twist with or without your children.

It’s Hard for Everyone:

“I used to get caught up in how much we missed him and how hard it was to be without someone to help me on those big days, but one day it hit me on how hard it must be for him. He is the one missing the dinner surrounded by family and the beaming smiles on Christmas morning when they come downstairs to all of the presents. Ultimately, I think that it is harder on my husband to be away.”

I have considered leaving the state for the long Thanksgiving weekend to try to escape this reality of being alone. I have thought about locking myself in my house and having a pity party, but after hearing the struggles and achievements of others facing this same feeling, I am not going to run away. This year I am planning on volunteering and serving Thanksgiving dinner to those who are less fortunate that me. I will cut myself some slack and know that I can do this without my girls as I embrace new traditions that will help heal my heart. How will you survive the holidays without your loved ones?

Rachel is a Florida native who grew up in the St. Petersburg/Tampa Area before settling in St. Augustine. She began working in the business industry and decided to change careers and teach elementary education. This was an “ah ha” moment and she found her true passion, helping others. As her family grew she decided she wanted to stay at home and begin her career as a college professor. When she is not helping others, she is creating healthy food and a natural environment for her little girls as a single mommy.


  1. Those are all really sweet. But I gotta be honest, my first Christmas single was also her father’s holiday with her. I had a frozen pizza with my dad, who was also single, and he left after an hour. It was super pathetic and the saddest, sorriest thing ever, LOL. I drank wine and ate the rest of the pizza alone, binge watched TV, and cried my head off. It also made me determined that I would not have that sad of a holiday ever again. That first year is hard, but it’s okay to be sad and not feel like you have to be with a ton of people if you don’t want to.

  2. This probably sounds cold of me but I sometimes would just not make holiday plans when my son was with his dad. To just be alone and be lazy for a day was a gift for me. Easier to do since my immediate family wasn’t nearby or travelling. But I just really enjoyed the alone time!!!

  3. This may be my first holiday without my boys and to be honest I can’t even let my mind fully go there. I’m so appreciative for your post. I need to do something. Something is better than nothing. Perhaps a half marathon? Probably will have to walk most of it. Help the poor? That sounds like a great idea too! Great things to occupy the time in the morning…Just when it gets time to get to the family gathering… I just don’t want to fall to pieces.


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