When the Holidays Hurt: “Navigating the Holidays in the Absence of Family”

woman celebrating holidays in Columbia sc near Main Street under lights. Burberry scarf

Hey, Winefam it’s time for your Mom Tip Tuesday, where I bring you the most sought-after tips to make your journey a little easier because we all know “mommin ain’t easy”. The holiday season is a time for celebration and connection, but for some, it can be a challenging time when estranged from family. I have gone through my share of family strain and hope you can find some peace this holiday season knowing you aren’t alone. So let’s share some valuable tips and tricks on how to stay positive and find joy during the holidays, even when faced with the absence of family communication during the holidays.

So would you believe I have family that I do not speak to? Leaving the messy details aside for my mental health it’s just better to love them from afar. I want you to know just because you don’t talk to that family member doesn’t mean you can’t care about them. Sometimes it’s just better to give grace and move forward, however with little ones sometimes we don’t know what that looks like right?

gingerbread ornament with N in the middle
Sometimes holiday traditions can be making ornaments with loved ons

Here is your “how-to” during the holidays

Surround Yourself with a Supportive Network:
When estranged from family, it’s important to surround yourself with a supportive network of friends and chosen family. The best part of the holidays is sharing love and joy with those who mean the most to you. Lean on those who uplift and understand you for who you are. Plan gatherings or activities with your support system to create new traditions that will cultivate a sense of belonging. Remember, family doesn’t solely consist of blood relations; it’s the bonds we create with those who support and love us unconditionally that matter. The military lifestyle has taught me that sometimes God brings people into your life for a reason and a season, but when you find the good ones hold tight; those are your people.

Focus on Self-Care:
The holiday season can be emotionally demanding, especially when family issues arise. Who’s house are we staying at, political disagreements, cramming all the festivities into a weekend, or is this family member someone I feel emotionally safe with? Prioritize self-care as a means of nurturing your well-being especially if interacting stresses you out. Engage in activities that bring you joy and peace, such as practicing meditation, indulging in your favorite hobbies, or pampering yourself with a spa day. Find what makes you happy and DO IT. For me I love to window shop and do my nails so best believe that will be happening this holiday season…ok maybe some real shopping, but hey it self care Winefam. By taking care of yourself, you can cultivate inner strength and maintain a positive outlook during the holidays.

Embrace Volunteering and Giving Back:
Redirect your energy towards making a difference in the lives of others. Engage in volunteer work or participate in charitable activities during the holiday season. By focusing on giving back and spreading joy to those in need, you can create a sense of purpose and fulfillment. If you aren’t sure where to start check out your local charities or even start at your kiddo’s school they can point you where others need help. Back in North Carolina, we would volunteer at the food bank it’s great for all ages to get involved in early learning to give back. The act of helping others can bring a profound sense of gratitude and positivity, even in the absence of familial connections. Sometimes you gotta pour your joy where it matters.

Create Meaningful Traditions:
Just because you may not have contact with your family/members doesn’t mean you can’t create meaningful holiday traditions for yourself and your children. Establish rituals that bring you joy and create a sense of holiday spirit. It could be decorating your home, baking cookies, or watching your favorite holiday movies. Check out my Instagram for my favorite Oreo cookie recipe, the kids love it, and it’s super easy and budget-friendly to make. By embracing your traditions, you can fill the holiday season with joy and create lasting memories for your family.

Seek Professional Support:
If the absence of family communication weighs heavily on your emotional well-being, consider seeking professional support. Therapy or counseling can provide a safe space to navigate your feelings and develop coping strategies. A skilled professional can help you navigate the complex emotions. After my falling out with certain family members I had so many questions, but going to therapy helped me to rationalize and work through them and it made the time apart less painful.

Winter Fest El Paso TX

Its totally normal to feel sadness when you notice people missing from the picture but sometimes life happens. I hope that these tips help you, especially this holiday season. It’s not easy by any means but sometimes family being present hurts more than their absence. What tips have worked for you around the holidays with estranged family? Have you gone no contact with a family member or limited your time? How did that work out for you? Let’s continue the dialogue, and as always hoping your wine or your coffee is stronger than your kids. Click here for a previous Mom Tip Tuesday.

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