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The Holiday Season and Chumpdom

Elf It’s beginning to look a lot like…

NO! It’s not even Thanksgiving yet! Don’t even THINK about it!

I’m sorry. The holiday season is upon us. For chumps who live in distant lands, for Hindu and Muslim chumps who have other traumatic holiday seasons to wade through — please bookmark this advice for later.

Yes, it’s that time of year again when everyone’s thoughts turn to… The Family I Do Not Have.

Chumps are not unique in this. Frankly, I’ve been celebrating the holidays this way since I was a teenager. Don’t you? Don’t you imagine some other, better behaved family with fewer mortifying traditions? In my imaginary family, my brother actually thanks me for gifts, my mother decides to skip church, and my father stuffs the stockings with something other than duct tape and gum stimulators. (That’s not a joke. Those are actual gifts from my father.)

But after I grew up and suffered a divorce or two, The Family I Do Not Have weighed on me differently during the holiday season, like undigested fruitcake. It was a reminder that my family doesn’t look like other (as I imagine) more perfect families. For many years, my nuclear family was just me and my son.

The holidays are a time of year that idealize the intact family. Little baby Jesus is born in a stable with all his doting attendants. He’s not dividing his time in a complicated custody arrangement between Mary and Joseph and Joseph’s new wife Ruth, and various step-children who are rather upset at all the attention this new-born brat is getting. Frankincense and myrrh? Really? I didn’t get myrrh until I was TWELVE. You love him better don’t you?

If you’re alone at the holidays, it’s hard not to compare your life to the Family I Do Not Have. Or get misty about the Family I Used to Have. But take heart, there are ways to get through the holiday season that don’t include drinking yourself into an eggnog-induced stupor.

1.) Stop comparing. In your imagination your ex and former in-laws are wearing handknit sweaters, sitting around a blazing fire, eating exquisite European chocolates, singing Christmas carols (in perfect harmony). In reality? Your former mother-in-law is still passive aggressively sabotaging dinner, your father-in-law is still watching Fox news, and your replacement got Microsoft Office for Christmas, and not the Mercedes you imagine.

In other words, don’t romanticize your ex’s life. It’s probably as mundane and dysfunctional as it ever was. And if it’s truly fabulous, and your children come home with tales of new ponies and a baby sister? You don’t control that. You just control you, and your happy.

As a wise chump quoted here the other day, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Don’t rob yourself of your own happiness by comparing your lot to others. Work on what you can control — giving yourself and your family a happy holiday season.

2.) Hold it together for the kids. If you feel like an emotional bucket of slop right now, that’s understandable. But don’t spill out all over your kids. Shore up with some therapy. A change in holiday traditions and adjustments to new family are hard on kids too. So focus on making their holiday bright. You’re the grown up here.

If your ex is driving you crazy with the holiday schedule, try to take the emotion out of it. If you wind up celebrating Christmas on Tuesday, January 7 — Goddamnit, make it the best Tuesday, January 7 ever. Don’t guilt your kids, pressing your nose up to the glass of their Other Holiday. “Oh, there was turkey? Really? (sob) I love turkey…” They don’t need to feel sad for life’s plan of not including you.

If you can’t do a poker face or feign happiness at their holiday joy, redirect. “You had turkey? That’s great! Hey, I’ve got cookies in the oven!”

3.) Give thanks. You have a family. It might be your own knit-together tribe of misfits. It might be you and the dog this year, it might be the fellow company of chumps on this board, but hey, YOU HAVE A FAMILY. Embrace them. Appreciate their finer qualities, revel in their company. You’re not alone unless you want to be.

4.) Get off your ass and go volunteer. Every list of holiday wisdom dating back to early Christendom offers this piece of advice. You know why? Because it works. Nothing kicks your ass out of self pity faster than spending some time around people who truly have it worse. And chumps, you don’t have to look far to find someone on this earth who has it much, much worse. Want to get yourself out of a funk and help someone out of theirs? Find a charity. Go help out at your church or temple. Go sign up at Volunteer Match. If you can’t be happy, at least do some good.

5.) Make your own traditions. You know how you get over the Family I Do Not Have? Be the Family You Wish You Had. I don’t mean its original configuration, I mean, start fresh and make your own holiday traditions. Do you want to sleep in, and only eat peppermint bark for breakfast? New tradition! Did your ex hate A Charlie Brown Christmas? Midnight holiday movie marathon — new tradition! Do you want a Thanksgiving side dish devoid of a cloying marshmallow crust? Quinoa. New tradition!

See how that works? Have a wonderful, newly configured holiday season!

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  • Not going to miss the STBX inlaws Christmas at all. The adult males hanging out in sweat pants. (so they can eat more?) The ceremonial exchange of gift cards. Her parents are very hung up on getting gifts. Sure they like to give them too. But for crying out loud I’m an adult I’m not a child who needs gifts. And when I said I don’t want anything they wonder why I’m being a stick in the mud. I suggested once when they wanted to know what I wanted. I told them nothing and suggested that they pull a couple of cards off the mitten tree and give a needy kid or two a gift. Of course they must have thought I was nuts……… No, I’m not going to miss that at all.

    • Add me to the list of chumps who won’t miss their awful ex-in-laws over the holidays. A bunch of obese rednecks who admired successful fake disability claims and schemes to avoid paying taxes more than getting an education or holding a job. No more endless days stuffed in an overheated house with large-screen TVs in every room blaring bootlegged copies of crappy action films (imagine “Judge Dredd” on a loop for two full days) and not one light to sit and read by anywhere in the house (Reading? Why would anyone do that?). No more conspiracy theories (the Jews control the world’s financial system and cats are descended from extra-terrestrials) or gifts bought ten years ago from the Home Shopping Network (No, I have no use for particle board VHS tape organizer). No more “N*gger jokes” told with a wink like I’m down with their hate and self-pity (F*ck you, Cracker). And while I’m not about to set quinoa on my holiday table, I sure as hell won’t miss that spread from “The White Trash Cookbook.” I mean, mac and cheese with brown gravy as the centerpiece of Christmas dinner? WHO DOES THAT?!?

      You can get an idea of my life in late December from 1984 through 2008 here:

      Chumplady is right: divorce is an opportunity to unburden yourself of traditions you tolerated and even tried to appreciate out of (misplaced) loyalty to your cheating ex. Seize it. And enjoy what comes next. It’s bound to be better.

      • Thanks for the link, Nomar! After I watched that video I spent the next 20 minutes watching the other linked “Redneck Christmas” videos. I must say I am already feeling better about the holidays!

          • Andy’s cat refused to live with him.

            Andy brought the cat back to me. Last year, when Andy showed up at the house in the middle of the night, Sexy Lexi started hissing & spitting at him.

            I didn’t sleep for about 48 hours after that experience, but Lexi got tuna that night.

  • “3.) Give thanks. You have a family. It might be your own knit-together tribe of misfits.”

    Back when XH was in grad school and our families were far away in other states, we’d invite other “orphan” grad students to our house for holiday dinners. These were people who would have spent them alone, as we would have, so we decided to spend them together. It was SO MUCH fun!

    Often, it involved grad students from other countries. I’ll never forget the beautiful Chinese woman who came for Thanksgiving. She’d been in the States for just a few weeks, didn’t speak a word of English, didn’t understand what Thanksgiving was all about, and was leery of all the strange American food – until she got her first taste of vanilla ice cream, that is. She downed that scoop like it was manna from heaven and tapped her plate with her spoon to indicate she wanted another. We all laughed out loud. White wine and ice cream she understood. Stuffing, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie? Not so much.

    This was decades ago, and yet some of those “orphans” still remember that we opened our house to them when they would have been alone. We would have been, too, so it was “win-win” all around.

    I encourage your readers to do the same. Don’t spend the holidays alone, moping. There’s no need to. If you know of co-workers, friends, or relatives who might be alone, invite them to your place, or go out for dinner together. You’ll be surprised how much fun you’ll have. It’s a whole new way to make memories.

    • I had a Thanksgiving like that…loads of overseas folks and we couldn’t find a turkey at the last minute, so it was chicken, wine, potatoes and more wine. We were all poor, it was potluck and we laughed more than I thought was humanly possible. I have carried that tradition through the years by always inviting any strays for Christmas lunch. Just bring a bottle and the rest is on me. I plan on continuing this, perhaps with a bit of volunteering.

    • I’d like to second (or third) this suggestion.

      I live in a town with a large university, and I know that many international students are stuck here over the holidays. The rest of their friends are gone, so they really appreciate a chance to visit with people, even if the celebration isn’t their own. If you feel like sharing some of the holidays with international students, you could probably call the international student services people to let them know.

      Great suggestion, and if I were to spend time by myself, I’d be making this call.

      My own holidays are likely to be much better without STBXH. We’ve historically spent them with my side of the family because 1) my side’s not dysfunctional and 2) my side has living people on it. I will have a plate full of activities and about 14 people who’ll be happy to do them with me.

  • I liked this article. That first Christmas with just my kids and me we, did something really different from the same dinner we had been doing for 26 years. I decided to start a new tradition. We would have instead of the traditional dinner ( turkey, etc) I would do Christmas dinners from around the world. Last year it was food from the Philippines’. The girls spent a lot of time laughing at how bad a cook I was ( and I have to agree as my food did not look like the pics) and it was a lot of fun. It broke the traditions of the past and helped them understand that life moves on, just different than before. This year it is going to be Italian ( my heritage).

    • Anna – what a GREAT idea!

      Not only does it establish new traditions, it helps you learn about other cultures, too. Cool!

    • I really like this idea! I was talking to the kids the other day about how we could do Christmas different this year and we were kind of stumped. Maybe this is something I can propose to them.

  • Tracy, again – you hit the nail on the head just when I needed it the most! I actually haven’t changed the holiday routine that much – I got the children, the in-laws along with all the Christmas ornaments in addition to my settlement. But Christmas was a time when the ex was especially “bright.” He LOVED Christmas – not for any religious reason, he loved it for the cheap sentimentality it brought out in him, the “big show” of way too many gifts all meticulously wrapped by his own hands (and the bills adding to our crushing debt”, he loved the comparison of how much better his Christmas traditions (excess, excess, excess) was compared to my own family (big gift/little gift – time together the rest of the day).

    So it was the season to be the biggest “Lord Bountiful” he could be. And sometimes I still miss that – and that “perfect family Christmas” I thought we had year after year.

    This list of “do’s” you offer are just the ticket for what ails any chump – whether new in the game, midway through, or out the other end. And YES – volunteering is the best way to make a difference in your own life and in others. Have a great Thanksgiving!

  • Love this post! coupla things: my chumped SIL has a new tradition with her (now adult) kids that I love: “Thanksmas”…takes place any time between Thanksgiving & Christmas when they can all get together.

    Also– the stocking gifts? must be a Waspy thing…we always got toothbrushes and toothpaste. No, really. With love. And an orange in the toe. What are these presents you speak of, in the stocking?

    Finally–I totally love your pinecone Elves. They Rock It.

    • We get the orange in the toe of the stocking too! Thank you for noticing my elf. They so rock!

    • I loved getting oranges in my stockings! It’s an old tradition based on St. Nicholas, which you can google. What I remember was my mom, who grew up in the depression, telling us what a treat it was to get an orange.

  • Thanks for this. Last year was extremely difficult. It was the first holiday season since DDay and also the first holiday without my beloved sister, who was dying of pancreatic cancer just as STBX told me he was involved with another woman. We told our daughter we were splitting in late May 2012 and my sister passed the next week. So it was a holiday shadowed with huge loss. Fortunately, I have remained close to my remaining siblings, cousins and even have a surrogate family to boot. Having lost both parents to cancer decades ago, we have all made great efforts to stick together. So we still gathered together while STBX spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with OW’s family (not his own.) We spent Thanksgiving together, as we always have. STBX was very gracious in letting our daughter be with us. On Christmas, my daughter and I joined “surrogate” parents and their daughter/kids for an afternoon at the movies and then out for Asian food. (Perhaps a new tradition!) Then my extended family gathered together on another day. After Christmas, STBX went to Christmas party with OW’s family and brought our daughter along for that. It is very difficult for me to accept that he immediately tried to blend her in with his “new family.” But this year, I look forward to more time with my beloved family on both Thanksgiving and sometime during Christmas week, while STBX floats around with no specific plans, nor family to be with.

  • This post is awesomeness wrapped up in a Christmas bow. I loved it, especially this – ” You know how you get over the Family I Do Not Have? Be the Family You Wish You Had.” I’m going to follow this advice and embrace the season. I’m going to not think about Asshat and what he’s doing and focus on what the kids and I are doing. I’m going to follow some of our old traditions and start some new ones.

    This year is going to be a great holiday, mostly because I don’t have a cheater asshat of a husband dragging everything down.

    • “because I don’t have a cheater asshat of a husband dragging everything down.” THIS!

      Love it.

    • I actually got through last holiday by thinking that this holiday I’d not have STBXH. Well, I still have him, but this is absolutely our last holiday together. He’ll have a surprise in January/early February, and I’ll have a life starting in March/early April.

      • kb, I am in the very same situation. I do have the master suite to myself and I am going to fix something special for me to eat Christmas day. I will slip it into the bedroom, turn on my favorite holiday shows and listen through headphones, have a glass of wine and pretend it is next year’s Christmas which will be even better. H is not well and hoping he is well enough by spring to get his surprise, which will immediately make my life better. Good luck.

  • The holidays always sucked for me when I was married – exH was from Europe, and Thanksgiving pretty much signaled a month of unending stress where my ex MIL would threaten to kill herself if he didn’t come “home” for the holidays (yes, he didn’t fall far from that crazy tree) – I actually called it the “December death dance”…

    It has gotten much better – he was very sparkly, and when he actually was there for Christmas (3 out of 11 years), he was pouting and whining because I didn’t spend thousands of dollars on him (our Santa brings one gift and stockings). CL’s advice is perfect – find a new focus – helping others, sledding/skiing, new traditions, delivering cookies to a nursing home (old people are always happy to see little kids and cookies 🙂 ). In retrospect, I had a sad and lonely marriage – now I can enjoy the holidays free from drama, in-laws, and materialism. Hopeful for Happy Holidays ahead!

    • I’m sorry — I laughed out loud HARD at “December death dance.”

      I wouldn’t miss your MIL either!

  • Thank you for this. I have to remind myself not to compare because that for me, is the worst and CL you are right, I cannot control what he’s up to.

    This is my first Holiday Season without STBX and new family arrangements. I’m kind of dreading it, so this advice has been helpful. I like the idea of starting new traditions. And being with those who are less fortunate than I am.

    I am enjoying looking at new decorations for the Season as I always have enjoyed this time of year. I know it will be a quieter year for me which is nice.

    • This will be my first Christmas without STBXH too. New traditions are definitely the way forward. We’ll be fine. I am concentrating on what I will nor miss & what I am looking forward too. *hugs*

    • Me too. First one without Dickly. Kids have suggested we go out for Thai for Thanksgiving and daughter wants to go on a Christmas cruise with me (son will be with girlfriend’s family across the country). Both of those things sound fun and better than moping around thinking about holidays past. And I do have to remind myself that for at least the last 5 years (affair time) Dickly was crabby, sat in front of his computer all day and tried to get us to stop celebrating Christmas (because he didn’t want to). So it just wasn’t that good.

      We shall overcome! Good luck to you Alice and then!

    • This is also my first holiday season without my stbxh. (And I am really hoping Santa brings me a finalized divorce as an early Christmas gift… I don’t want it to carry over into 2014.)

  • I’m going to enjoy the absence of stress.

    With the STBX, the holidays were my “job”, and watch out if I didn’t do things “right”. Every year we needed *more* decorations, according to him, and I would up being the one buying them, somehow. I was tasked with the decorations for our ginourmous house. He would sort-of volunteer to help with the heavy stuff, but when asked to do it, he was always too busy…when he would help with a small portion, he was angry about it. You could cut the air with a knife, the tension was so high. I was the one who was responsible for getting gifts for everyone, including his entire family, which I also paid for. Thanksgiving consisted of him volunteering us to host dinner that year, but with me doing the entire meal by myself, and him attending, as if he were just another guest. Afterwards, he would go off and play video games or watch tv. He didn’t help with anything – cutting the turkey, preparing the food, nothing. If it weren’t for STBX’s family helping out with the dishes and such, I would have been way over my head.

    The past two Christmases were stressful beyond belief. My then three-year old daughter came down with an intestinal issue on Christmas Day, and was screaming and crying all day…it was bad….probably TMI but she had poop coming out of her randomly, even when she was just standing up, she couldn’t help it….and crying…it was horrible…she was losing so much fluid, and she was hysterical with pain. It went on so long, I was a wreck with worry, and was about to take her to ER. My STBX didn’t care at all about her health issue. He said me wanting to take her to ER was “ruining Christmas”. Looking back, I know that he was banging his OW at that time, so that might explain his misplaced anger at me, the wife who was getting in the way of his being with his OW during the holidays. Arrgh.

    At this point, I have more bad memories of Christmas than good ones. I think this will make the holidays easier for me, going forward. I’m not comparing them to some idyllic Christmas, because it didn’t exist for us.

    • Agree, LUD’s, most of my holidays are now linked to an incident about his antics with nasty OW. I’m looking forward to making new happy memories- this will be the first time in 30 yrs I’ll be living near my two sisters and their families, and we can all see each other!
      And I sure won’t miss the endless loop of 3 Stooges shows on the TV as we tried to enjoy a holiday meal, or converse with our sons, or the grunge and rock playing all the time, or him eating fast so he could leave us all sitting there like idiots so he could run over and see her.
      I have nowhere to go but up from that! I am def going to volunteer, that should be just what the doctor ordered, and maybe I’ll meet some fellow Chumps, too!

    • OMG, your ex truly sucks. I also had the must-fuck-my-OW-at-the-holidays panic, complete with unexplained absences. D-Day was right after Thanksgiving. I think you’re Christmas will be idyllic just because it doesn’t include HIM.

      • “must-fuck-my-OW(M)-at-the-holidays panic” Oh shit, that brings back some memories!

        A favorite of mine:
        “Holidays. Time to bring out the fancy crazy.”

    • OH MY GOD!!

      I, too, had the passive-aggressive non-helpful husband during the holidays. I was solely responsible for buying all Christmas presents and doing all the decorating, including buying and setting up the tree. The last Christmas, I decorated the tree with our middle son, while xH laid on the floor playing video games and quite possibly chatting with OW on line. He looked up and criticized the decorating, upset that I didn’t use all the decorations his mother had made or bought over the years. I’d stuck with the glass ornaments I like. He always refused to help clean up the house for the guests–“It’s Christmas. I don’t clean on Christmas.” [But that’s cool if you do it.]

      UGH!! I do NOT miss him!!

      I will keep my memories of his family to myself. But, uh, wow. The OW will fit right into that lot. Except I bet she doesn’t clean up his mom’s kitchen like I always did.

      • “Except I bet she doesn’t clean up his mom’s kitchen like I always did.”

        Good point, I hadn’t thought about that yet.

  • Everything came tumbling down on Christmas Eve, so I am dreading the season like a bad cold. I really do feel like undigested fruitcake. CL, you are a genius. I am laughing and that one phrase will get me through the season. Thank you.

  • CL,
    I am taking offense. I am a Hindu and we always celebrated Christmas just like you do it here. How dare you say that we cannot use your advice right now!
    Just kidding. You are great and to the point as always.
    Happy holiday season everyone.


  • My first xmas post DDay was sad, but also hopeful.
    I thought I was doing well, but I must still have had a “deer in the headlights” look about me. I struck up a conversation with an older gentleman at the tree farm; went out with the kids to cut down a tree (difficult to find a good one, as I did not get the kids back from then STBXH until 10 days before xmas).

    When I went to pay, the older gentleman had paid for my tree, and left.
    A random acts of kindness for someone who desperately needed to see it.

    My new holiday tradition with my kids: going for a short hike or to the beach on xmas day. I like the idea of food from around the world; I will have to propose that to the kids this year.

    • Your tree story made me teary. What a kind gesture from a stranger during a difficult season…

  • I’m thinking of resurrecting my pre-marriage tradition of watching all the Pooh movies” “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh”, “The Tigger Movie” and even “Piglett’s Big Movie” over Christmas vacation. Maybe even enlarge the marathon with that Heffalump movie.

    I’m a little weird, I know. No pine cone elves inhabiting the greater Elfadelfia, though 😉

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

    • I have a new elf outpost this year — Elf Paso. (Found some elves on eBay with sombreros, just to round out the effect.)

      Winnie the Pooh movie marathon sounds great! There used to be a Pooh meet up when I was in college. We’d all get together, make tea, and read Winnie the Pooh stories to each other (AA Milne ONLY, no Disney). Good times.

    • This sounds like a great idea, TH!

      I’ve not been one for Christmas movies, but if I’m going to watch something, I’d like it to be seasonal and fun. Also, Pooh is great. Have you read the Tao of Pooh?

      • Why yes, I have. The characters are really archetypal if you think about it: Tigger, the eternal optimist (except for that brief bit in the Tigger movie), Piglet the worrier, Rabbit the control freak, Owl the supercilious and pretentious, Eyore the eternal pessimist, etc.

        I always thought it would be kool to get make an art print with a Tao symbol comprised of Eyore on one half and Tigger on the other 🙂

        Like I said, I’m a little weird 😉

        • Time Heals,
          I hope that CL doesn’t mind me posting this link, but Tigger has always been the one constant in my life. This was from my blog when I was still able to blog. Hoping I will be able to get back to it soon. Dday was Jan. last year and I’m having trouble – which i’m sure you can understand. Have a very Tigger Chumpmas! He will be the focal point of my baby potted tree..loaded with presents for my daughters and my Grands, with the money I would have spent on him! XO

          • LOL – There is a strong Tigger presence in the TH household as well, like dozens of them 🙂

            This is the mega–Christmas-Tigger with my oldest dog a few years ago:

            Tigger and Duncan

              • Naw, the only animated one I have is another Xmas Tigger in a rocking chair that rocks to holiday music. The dogs want to fight that one, and it has been so long since I had it out, I’m not sure where it is 😉

  • I must say that I am THRILLED to be without my NPD-XH this holiday season! He hated giving gifts AND he hated getting gifts! And when your holiday season looks like this: Thanksgiving – His Birthday – Our Wedding Anniversary – Christmas – MY BIRTHDAY – then NYE! This was never a fun time of year. I was unmarried until I was 37 and moved and traveled a lot, so I was always throwing or attending an “orphan” holiday gathering with “my tribe”. These times in my life were/are constant affirmations of the goodness in people and community. When it comes down to it. We’re all family. And I like that.

  • Still with H for another Christmas. Last year I cried so much I had to stop going to church for awhile as I was making a spectacale of myself. This year not in the spirit. may not bake cookies may not put up decorations and tree. Possibly no Christmas cards. Will do presents with family members. Not sure if I will stay home or go to my sister’s home (2 hrs away)

    • Janet, being stuck with them after it is over, may be the worst part, because it makes it so difficult to get on with our lives. Work to find things to look forward to in the new year. Hope floats.

    • Last year was our first holiday post DDay. STBX wanted to “do” Christmas Eve together as a family the way we always did. And I acquiesced. Only it wasn’t the way we always did. I didn’t cook a dinner because I was too depressed to do so, and didn’t feel like putting in the effort. STBX showed up late and acted like it was no big deal. (Not unlike our entire marriage.) We opened a few gifts and had a couple appetizers and then off he went to be with OW, while I stayed home with our daughter. It was empty, it was anything but merry, it was depressing.

  • All great ides, CL!

    DD will be with OW and ex on Xmas night, so I think I will go volunteer somewhere, if my Zen Master pal isn’t free to watch, say all of the Monty Python movies while we eat fondue (as opposed to the traditional, passive-aggressive spread).


    No more THEM.


    I am declaring Chumpmas Holiday Season.


  • I always loved the holidays. I love the cooking, the lights, the gifts, the family time. Then ex dumped me on Dec 15 while we were sitting in Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf having a quick cup of coffee on his lunch break, and while I was at the mall shopping for gifts for him. Little did I know he had just come (ha, no pun intended!) from having a threesome with his two married OW.

    He moved out the next morning, but then insisted it was his legal right to remain in the house, and moved back in Christmas Eve. He moved into the guest room, I stayed in our bedroom. I sat in stunned agony Christmas morning while our son opened gifts and ex pretended I wasn’t there.

    I started walking for miles with the dog every night, numb with terror and disbelief. I’d look at the lights, walk, listen to the same song on my iPod over and over again. It’s now four years later, but the sight of holiday lights still gives me a weird feeling inside, a little taste of that numb awfulness.

    Anyway, I did go on to start my own small traditions once I moved into my apartment. I put out my snowman collection. I pick out one of my four menorahs to use (ours was an interfaith marriage). I string lights around my balcony railing. I open gifts with my son. I admit, it isn’t anything like my old holidays with ex, and I miss those days still. But life goes on, and no way would I want to be with that horrible man. It’s really just the memories, the dreams, the hopes of what I so much wanted, that I miss. None of it was ever real, I know that.

    The holidays are definitely a trigger for me now, and I have a lot of mixed emotions. Instead of the happiness and excitement, I mostly feel loss and some loneliness. Although perhaps this year will be different, as I’m dating a nice man who is actually coming to my family Thanksgiving to meet my loud, overwhelming family. Things are going well so far, despite my anxiety about getting close to another man.

    • “But life goes on, and no way would I want to be with that horrible man. It’s really just the memories, the dreams, the hopes of what I so much wanted, that I miss. None of it was ever real, I know that..” yeah, i so know this feeling.. trying to fit that illusion u loved with the horror freak that finally showed up in ur life.. how could i not have seen it from the very first meeting.. that sheen and gloss… the slick talk and the slicker looks… that mirroring back of every one of ur thought.. “OMG.. he’s so like me.. he finishes my sentences for me.. we are sooo alike.. this is the one”.. if it seems too good to be true chumps… it is and so run! the first year was fun and then i was no longer sparkly enuf … babysitters, friend’s wives.. anything that moved.. there was a type it was not the slim fit beautiful was always the slightly overweight lacking self esteem kind that would be swept off their feet… he used to literally strut around because he bagged a PYT (uh! in his eyes!)… i feel so sick now that i finally accepted that he was sick from word go.. i just didnt want to see it … friend family would try to warn me off and i’d just cling on to “hes my soul mate” excuse… finally its over.. its such a relief.. its scary as hell too to start over at 45 – second marriage gone bust for the exact same reason.. my son from my first marraige tells me (hes all grown up) “u had a type mummy… just leave it now”.. wise words from a 24 year old.. oh did i mention that he’s the same age too as the OW… Well thank God i finally saw the skank for what he is and left… Chumplady and all the chumps here have given me the courage to let go… to just let go… and it feels so.. final and free!

    • If I meet anyone after STBX, I want him to embrace my loud, overwhelming family. 🙂

      I hope your nice man finds a family who talks to each other (sometimes quite loudly!) to be invigorating!

      Also, I share your love of the food preparation. My family has recipes dating back over a century. How anyone can prefer store-bought baked goods over the real deal is beyond me. STBX often complains of the smells associated with baking. Sheesh!

      • Mine didn’t want me to bake because he was “watching his weight”. Then he would go for a before bed trip to the corner store for junk to binge on, and probably a BJ to go with the M&M’s. Deaf, Dumb and Blind…that was me!!

  • Oh holidays.. I have learned to celebrate before or after Christmas day depending on where our daughter was the year before and I don’t mind at all. Nothing is better than spending time with our daughter no matter what day it is.

    Don’t miss traveling to both of the grandparents. Don’t miss the team up on me time now that her family is around so she can show her @ss and run around like she is not an adult. Don’t miss the oh it’s only a little money in gas as she uses my credit cards to buy all of her family gifts. Wait for it.. Don’t miss a damn thing about it.

    I will not fall for it. I will be in the gym!

    • Mr. H, I never thought about all the stuff I won’t miss and found there is a bunch of it, which is why I am out of the mess in the first place. Thanks for pointing out the nerve pinching times of the past…good riddance.

  • Sometimes, extracting the ex is EXACTLY what makes the holidays!

    Let’s see now…

    1. No more “proper” holiday mornings– the kids and I had on Christmas shows all day last year, ate Christmas-themed cereal (and probably some candy from the stockings), and had fun lazing around among the gifts until my family’s big party that night. He was always so uptight– I was supposed to make something more involved like waffles (love waffles, but I love a lazy Christmas morning more), and we were supposed to go on some sort of Christmas “constitutional” (like a walk in the brisk morning air). Sorry. Christmas morning in my mind=pajamas at least until lunch.

    2. No more buying gifts for Mr. Impossible. I always felt like whatever I got him wasn’t that great; I especially fell flat with books (and yes, another reader married to a non-reader… I think that was my first mistake). I always took such careful time to buy him gifts that I thought he’d really like; I should have saved all that time I spent researching and shopping and just bought him a subscription to Ashley Madison!

    3. No more being late to my family’s Christmas dinner and party, and no more dealing with Mr. Nose-Out-Of-Joint because he basically thought that we were too rowdy a bunch, and he especially disliked how loud the kids were (the oldest is 9 and the youngest is a newborn, to give you a frame of reference… clearly, we should have done everything we could to dampen their Christmas spirit). He was always SUCH a drag to bring to family events; I always felt like I had to make sure he wasn’t being left out and dance attendance on him.

    4. Finally, no more feeling frustrated that I’m the only one who makes all of the moments of Christmas happen because now I am on my own, so I am the only one who makes it happen at my house. For years, I ran EVERYTHING related to Christmas; I expected XWH to buy his parents and brother gifts, and I assumed he’d get me gifts. That was it. I purchased and decorated the tree (and after several years of listening to his griping, I started bringing the tree stand with me so the guy at the nursery could cut the lower branches to make it fit in the stand, so XWH only helped trim branches for a few years), did ALL of the shopping, baking, decorating, Christmas card writing/sending, and gift wrapping. Most of it I was happy to do because I enjoyed it, but there were times when I would have liked his help, and he wasn’t forthcoming. He’d also gripe about how messy the tree was, how it left needles in the car, blah blah blah.

    5. A small point, but we drove miles for several years to have Christmas with his parents… and it always made me feel sad. My family has always been fun and exuberant; his family’s Christmas was stilted and boring. But, his parents and brother were very nice, so I always made the best of it. I won’t miss not doing that anymore, though.

    As far as I’m concerned, all is well in Whoville because I got rid of the GRINCH!!!!

    • You are so right. I am right now, beginning a list of all the things I don’t HAVE to do this holiday. It is going to be quite a laundry list and I am having a ball going over what I hope will soon be, ancient history.

    • Readers should definitely not marry non-readers. It’s a lesson I’ve learned and a mistake I will not make again. Funnily enough, I was always the one who put Christmas together and made the day fun and full of people. Last year was the first time without everyone together and while it wasn’t perfect we made it nice with some friends over. i heard the ex had his mother cook everything for their day and it was boring as fuck. I imagine it’ll be more of that this year: ex MIL gets to be in control and ex gets to play little boy, waited on hand and foot. This year I’m trying to find volunteer opportunities for me and the kids and some friends, and then we’re going to cook some sort of meal together and probably drink too much wine. Cannot wait. I don’t have much money for gifts so it’s going to be something chilled out and about being with people, not gifts.

      • During the 20 years of my marriage, my ex read a grand total of four books and one of those was porn. I’m a very prolific reader, with a never-ending stack of library books on my bedside table and a before-bed reading habit that is very important to me. Yeah, if I’m ever in another serious relationship, it would be nice if it’s with a guy who also likes to sit up reading in bed before lights out.

        • “During the 20 years of my marriage, my ex read a grand total of four books and one of those was porn.”

          I’m sorry, but this sentence made me laugh so hard! GIO, I can’t wait until I can look at my husband and make the same kind of candid (and hysterical) appraisal.

      • STBX and I read, but one of the really cute things my parents did was read out loud to each other every night in bed. STBX was never interested in our reading to each other. Oh, he’ll read out loud to me if he finds a newstory of interest, but the reverse? Perish the thought! He’s always too busy!

        He reads, but it’s more of a dipping into the book rather than consuming the entire book. It’s a bit like how he constructs reality: he takes out bits and pieces, and then thinks he has the entire story. Last year, I got him an out-of-print edition of a book he really wanted. Apparently this is THE edition to get. Reprints leave out some of the text. He’s never cracked the spine.

        Interestingly enough, people think he’s read a lot. In fact, he’s read bits and pieces of a lot.

      • Nord, mine likes his mommy to wait on him hand and foot as well. He’d help to do dishes, but that was about it. I insisted on helping with cooking after watching MIL slave in the kitchen, and no one ever offered to help.

      • Wow, I totally agree with the reader/non reader thing! Reading is my life.

        He told me he was a BIG reader, he lied – never saw him finish a book in 13 years though he bought alot and read 10 pages…Max

        He also told me he hated football – lie.

        Oh yea…..and he never had and never would be unfaithful. guess we all know how THAT turned out, :/

        • I know I shouldn’t even ask, but why would somebody lie and say they “hated” (watching) a sport?

            • LOL. That’s kind of what I was thinking.

              I have never been into watching professional sports. I tried, but I think I have ADD when it comes to watching them or something. Hard for me to stay captivated. I would not describe that as “I hate watching … “.

              I watched the whole half-pipe thing at the Winter Olypics in Canada. I was pretty proud of that. Sometimes I can make it through a whole quarter of Football waiting for CBS to play “60 Minutes”. Lol. I have been to a few professional baseball games, and it was hard for me not to be annoying by talking about anything (and everything ) else as my mind wandered. Maybe I lack the kind of patience you need to fully appreciate watching sports.

              I would never describe myself as “Hating” a sport. Maybe I would if I was forced into situations that required me to watch them over and over? I’d like to think I’d learn to appreciate them more rather than resent being forced to watch them.

              So… as an avid and mostly non-sports watcher, I find the idea that somebody who lie about “hating” watching a sport kind of weird.

  • I am looking forward to my first holidays in nearly a decade with out the cheating XH!

    Thanksgiving was me shopping for all groceries, lugging said groceries inside and putting away. Me marinating, prepping, chopping, kneading, baking and frying for 2 days before the big day. And on the big day, me cleaning, decorating, and serving his family and mine. Then after it was all over, I cleaned, boxed up leftovers, etc, while he sat watching TV stuffing his face more. He did NOTHING. Then of course I had Christmas to look forward to, which was more of the same, just with gift buying and wrapping, and tree decorating thrown in.

    This year, I will do nothing. Absolutely nothing. I will go out to eat with my family and then come home and have desert in my jammies. I will go to bed full and rested and not smelling of dirty dishwater and yams. Joy!

  • For the first time this year I won’t have either of my grown sons or their wives with me on the actual day of Thanksgiving or Christmas. That is a really hard to think about, but I’m making plans to stay busy. I still have my elderly parents, and a church family, so will spend as much time with them as possible. Might even take a road trip to see my sister sing in her church’s Christmas program.

    Before “the worst Christmas of my life” our family had a wonderful holiday. My ex and I got a live Christmas tree, the biggest we could find. It was decorated beautifully, and everything was perfect. It was the culmination of the years of raising our kids, and they were about to graduate from college to go out on their own. It was perfect. So I’m thankful there was that one perfect holiday, and for all the Christmases we enjoyed with the kids when they were little, their whispers in the dark as they snuck down the stairs to see what Santa brought them.

    Last year I was mourning the LOSS OF EVERYTHING during the holidays when I happened to find an old Christmas photo from my childhood. My grandparents were in the picture, as well as a dear family friend. I was about 12, and everyone was laughing and having a good time. It suddenly struck me that most of the people in the picture were gone now. That’s when I realized that the structure of our families change over the course of our lives whether we want them to or not. We can’t stop it. So the structure of my family changed suddenly and rapidly, but it was inevitable even if there wasn’t a divorce.

  • My parents are gone, no siblings, only an aunt, uncle, and cousin across the country. I’m going to visit for Christmas. Stbx didn’t want kids, but didn’t tell me outright, just kept putting it off because he was so busy with work. I have lots of friends, but the thought of being the poor thing invited because they have no place to go is more than I can stomach. I’ll be volunteering on Thanksgiving.

    • Dear Goldie –

      Volunteering is lovely and you won’t regret it.

      At least consider joining up with friends. From the darkness of lies, betrayal and abuse from my x I was saved by my friends. I had to learn to let them show they cared. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. You’re not a poor thing any more than the rest of us :). People are inviting you because you are good company and they are your friends. Someday you will get the chance to reciprocate. I give parties for my friends all the time now.

      But, it is okay to remain on your own as well. Sometimes solitude brings some magical moments during this season.

    • The volunteering is a great way to spend the day. But don’t think of ‘the poor thing invited because they have no place to go’, think of people, any one of us, who are included in a warm circle of humanity at a really nice time of year!

  • Christmas I can manage just fine. It’s always been the holiday I put on all by myself, with the Ex never buying gifts or participating because he “refused to be coerced into buying gifts by Hallmark, he’d buy gifts when he damn well pleased.” Which meant we never got birthday or anniversary gifts, either, btw. He was too busy spending his cash on one of any number of OW, or on booze in bars. The DDs spend a scant two hour dinner at his house on Christmas Day, and we celebrate like we always did on Christmas Eve. Better, actually, since the 190-lb lunkhead in the corner isn’t there to throw a damper on everything.

    Easter, on the other hand, was DD day. He just couldn’t sit still long enough on Easter afternoon before dinner, and “had to go out rollerblading to burn off energy.” Which is when youngest DD got a phone call from her school friend, “Why is your dad kissing another lady and holding hands while he’s rollerblading around the lake??? Your mother doesn’t have red hair!” I threw the half-cooked roast in the garbage, swept the dishes off the table into the trash, and took DD out for Chinese food. Told him not to come home that night.

    His closet was packed into boxes in the garage that night, and he moved out into the apartment I found him three weeks later. Then I changed the locks. And filed.

    It’s taken me three years, and an amazing new boyfriend to get my love of Easter baskets back, but it’s coming around.

    • Holy cow…. what a D Day. Well, at least you didn’t miss in beat in getting him out of your life. I am in awe!

      Congrats on your new, better life!

      • Yeah, the really awesome part was when I found the hysterical scathing email from OW #1 bitching out OW#2 that night and realized this had to be brought to a very swift conclusion. First I vomited, then I downloaded the paperwork for dissolution of marriage. Did a DIY divorce for $275. Very proud of myself.

        First Christmas sucked Big Time. I sent both DDS off to XH’s house for dinner, with plans to go see a movie by myself. Sat down in the theater, and the slimiest, yuckiest douchebag sat down next to me and proceeded to try to pick me up. I walked out of the movie, drew myself a hot bath, lit a candle and drank an entire bottle of wine alone. Vowed I would never feel so desperate as to do that again. I think that was lowest ebb. Life has looked up immeasurably since.

        Who said, “The best revenge is living well” ? Damn, I’m living mighty fine.

  • Christmas is the least of the holidays I will miss with the STBX. He ruined all 14 Christmas seasons I spent with him. Only one do I have good memories of, the first year, he was still in the loving bombing stage. Every Christmas he would regress back to his childhood. According to him his parents always fought and he “never got the presents he wanted” ( poor thing). He would sink into a depressive state ( including threats of suicide), dig his heals in like a little boy and not want to go to any of my family celebrations. But I would beg and plead ( not sure why I did that looking back) for him to come with me. Then he would finally go like he was doing me some big favor, embarrass me, usually by drinking way more than anyone else and being totally disrespectful to my Mother.

    Last year was especially horrible. Two days before Christmas I got him to admit to the affair. Christmas Eve he spent the whole day with his paramour ho-worker. He promised our daughter he would be home before her bedtime that night so they could decorate cookies for Santa- but he broke her heart and never showed up until way past her bedtime. Then on Christmas morning I did what I always do, make a very nice brunch for us to enjoy after opening presents. After I had cooked everything I was feeling especially sad knowing this was our last Christmas all together and from just getting the confirmation about his affair days ago. I told him I was going upstairs for a little while ( to get a good cry out away from the kids). I came down 20 minutes later and to my surprise he had dished up and had them eat the special breakfast that I had spent a great deal of time preparing that morning without me. I was looking forward to eating together as family. All he could say was I saved you some. But he missed the point, I wanted to cherish our tradition and eat together as family like we always did Christmas morning.

    Even though he said he hated Christmas he would always go way over the top and decorate the outside of the house with copious amounts of lights and decorations. Looking back he loved the cake he got from all the neighbors oohing and aahing about how great he made the house look every Christmas. It was so outrageous, it took away from enjoying the Holidays because he needed so much time to put them up and take it down. He had to have the best decorations in the neighborhood, typical narcissist.

    Looking forward to a Holidays without heartache and spending time with those who truly love and care for me. Cheers to Chumps and new beginnings!

      • Yeah, Halloween was the same way. All out crazy decorations with hand built guillotine and stretching racks to boot. This last Halloween the neighbors were a bit disappointed, asking what happened to the all your decorations? Where’s the torture chamber you usually set up in your garage? That was fun explaining things to the neighbors I hadn’t told yet.

        He was definitely obsessed. The Halloween frenzy cookie eating smorgasbord carried into his work too. He had to take a whole truckload of decorations and set them up there too because all the attention from the neighborhood didn’t satisfy his ego. I will never forgive STBXH for his selfish behavior he displayed to my Father one Halloween. It was the first Halloween my Dad was alone. He asked if he could come to our house to spend the evening with his granddaughter. STBX said I don’t want him here, he’s just going to get in the way. Why oh why did I put up with that Bull Sh*t?

    • I am so upset for you about how your ex ate your Christmas breakfast without you!!! That is horrible!!! That would have hurt me so so much….. Having that last time of an important family holiday tradition stolen.

      Maybe they are all clueless, if we assume they don’t have intentionally bad motivations. Some, I am sure, do have mean motivations. In my situation, though, I think my ex is just completely unaware of the emotional impact of his actions and he has no sense of discretion. Only one week after leaving me, my ex took the OW to a family event that was supposed to be a joint birthday dinner for me and another person in his family. I, of course, was not there.

      I only learned about that a few weeks after the fact, but that was the first time I got angry in the whole process. And it is still the thing that makes me most angry… But before that party, he had already taken the OW to a public event that most people (and friends) we know were at (not me), just 5 days after leaving me. And I don’t think he got that any of it could be considered insensitive in any way… He was just thrilled to introduce her to his family and do stuff with her!

  • Bahahahahaha! My exH is in jail this holiday season (went in on Sunday) and I could not be more thrilled. I don’t have to share my daughter. I don’t even have to share my in-laws. I get one more holiday with his family (who I adore) and he won’t even be there to make it stupid. His parting gift to me before he went in… He texted his mom and told her that he was going to jail for a while, that his phone would be off, and that if she had any questions about it SHE SHOULD TALK TO ME ABOUT IT. (WTF?!?!?!?!) So, when I went to pick up my daughter last night from her grandma house… grandma and a shit ton of questions for me. Like… “why is my son in jail?” He is the asshole that keeps on giving, even when he’s in jail.

    I plan to cherish every second of the next 60 days or so…. Oh the quiet. Oh the non-drama. Finally the karma jackpot has paid off. A whole holiday season without the idiot. Did I mention that I’m excited!!!!!!

    However, I remember how hard last season was. Hugs to all chumps.

    • “My ex is in jail this holiday season.”

      With that one sentence, you made yourself the envy of virtually every chump everywhere.

      • I have never been so happy to see someone go to jail… And I put bad guys in jail for a living, so that’s saying something. I realize this is NOT practicing real detachment, but I don’t care. I am tap dancing all over this douche-less holiday season. 🙂

      • Ex in jail – that is truly on my wish list for Santa! You are truly blessed this holiday season! 🙂

        My ex has 18 counts of felony non-payment of child support that are due to be filed in December..ahhh, a girl can dream – after all, it is Christmas…

    • Oh Dani,
      I figured mine would be too…..but there’s still time so cross your fingers for me….

      He’s finally left town to be with his Mom….Social services tracked me down which meant I had to break my longest NC period yet – 6 months.

      Apparently she was pulling a gun on the neighbors .. did I mention she’s 83, has dementia, and I’ve had to deal with this for 13 years? Anyhoo I am grateful I won’t have to FORCE him to go see her this holiday season, where I had to pay for the trip and presents, every single year and miss work. While last year I didn’t realize he had “fallen in love” with the latest crack whore and my present was some wadded up $20 bills. I was so confused and now look back at it all as “Thank you baby Jesus” it’s over.

      All I want for Christmas is for him to stay there, or go to jail. And believe me the jail part is coming…:)

  • I shall be spending Christmas on my own this year. I don’t have kids & I don’t live near my family. I am actually looking forward to it but haven’t told many people as they look at me in horror. This will be my first Christmas without STBXH and I want to please myself. My family have accepted my decision despite my mother worrying that I will end up drunk & face down in a trifle by lunchtime. One of my cats is terminally ill & if she makes it as far as Christmas I would like to spend it with her.
    Here is what I won’t miss this year:
    1. Buying & sending all the cards to both sets of family & family friends. This includes buying cards for his close family, addressing & putting stamps on the envelopes & leaving them for him to sign & post only to find them stuffed in a drawer in April while I am spring cleaning.
    2. Buying all of the presents for his family & finding them stuffed under the bed in the spare room in April while I am spring cleaning.
    3. Decorating the house on my own. I’ll be doing that this year but the difference is I am now the only one in it. The cats appreciated the decorations more than he did.
    4. Doing all the food shopping. We both worked full time, but he was always far, far too busy for that sort of shit.
    5. Sitting at home on my own on Christmas Eve wondering what time he would come home from the pub & how drunk he would be.
    6. Thoughtless last minute gifts (sometimes bought under the influence of a shit load of booze on Christmas Eve) wrapped in the manner of a chimp let loose with gift wrap & sellotape.
    What I am looking forward to:
    1. My new cable subscription which I have bought myself for Christmas.
    2. Time spent with good friends.
    3. A peaceful Christmas day with the cats with no drunkeness or passive aggressive bullshit.
    4. Being drunk & face down in a trifle by lunchtime.
    5. My annual competition with my mother over who can watch the most versions of ‘A Christmas Carol’ (she always wins).
    6. Peace. I am most looking forward to peace at the end of the worst year of my life.

    • Amen!

      I’m with you, Alice, and all the other chumps (like MovingOn) who won’t even mind doing certain tasks now – because we actually are on our own.

      I am already experiencing this with housework. It used to seriously upset me to do it because he refused to help, so I would just let it go, but now I have a clean house (well, cleaner!) and it doesn’t upset me to do that work. Heck, I’m even ridiculously proud of myself for taking care of the yard work, too. He used to make such an ego-trip out of the fact that he mowed the lawn/raked leaves (so how could I possibly expect him to help with anything else?! just imagine if he cooked and I had to mow the lawn! gasp!). During the last argument we had about this, I remember thinking to myself, “Actually, I wouldn’t mind doing that at all” – and guess what, I don’t! Good exercise and time outdoors, plus it’s done in a couple of hours. (The kids help me, as they helped him.)

      Chump Nation: doing it for ourselves 😉

      (and, yes, a wholehearted amen also to the chumps who’ve gleefully taken the tasks they don’t want right off the table!)

      • No, I really don’t intend to end up drunk & face down in a trifle! The line comes from a conversation I had with my mother during which she was expressing grave concern about my decision to spend Xmas Day on my own. I said to her ‘I’m not going to end up drunk, crying & face down in a trifle you know!’. It’s now what I say to well intentioned people who question the sanity of spending it on my own. I’m actually quite looking forward to it. Last Xmas was awful, my STBXH was drunk, miserable and mostly absent. I didn’t know at the time but I ruined his Xmas by insisting he spent time with me when all he wanted was to be with OW.

    • Alice, I think my favorite is being drunk and face down in a trifle by lunchtime … and I don’t even drink!

  • Last year was so awful, I was looking forward to this Christmas without him. I finally got him out of the house, but it’s a tenuous victory. I feel like I will be standing guard at the door every moment to keep him from whining his way back in. I can’t just cut him off because of the kids. It’s not exactly the freedom I wish for.

    • No trespassing! Not a foot in the door or even the driveway! He can most definitely see his children-at a restaurant, even the local McDonalds.

      Guard your space. It’s your space and is sacred to you. True note: after I booted the ex, I must have gone through two jugs of bleach and countless rags and paper towels, washing his very fingerprints off of EVERYTHING. No way was there any trace of him anywhere in my house.

      Hell, when he showed up with the OW in tow to pick up DD for a pre arranged visit, I hosed down the driveway where she dared step out of the car, practically while she was still standing there! Henceforth, he is ordered to park on the street… Ain’t no tramp going to sully my karmic space!

      • MN, my “No Trespassing” notice was filed recently because X thinks he has every right to still park in the driveway and lurk on the front steps, talking and shooting the breeze with his kids when he could be anywhere else. They just don’t get it; they are NOT WELCOME.

      • Moved on, that is hysterical. It made me laugh!

        I remember my great aunt had a tom cat. She used to spray his balls with Lysol after he’d been out all night. She told me she had to disinfect him after he’d been out catting around all night. Poor thing, I guess he put up with have himself sprayed in exchange for a good plate of kibbles! He never seemed to mind too much. LOL

      • The cleaning thing: Funny, but even though H is still in the house, I keep going over in my mind, cleaning every trace of him out of here. I even have the wall and woodwork cleaners set in a cabinet with cleaning cloths ready to wipe him away. I have Fabreeze to get rid of his scent and a vacuum cleaner to get the carpets spotless. I have moved his canned goods, packages and boxes of food into a separate cabinet, ready to dump in the trash as soon as he is gone. I don’t have to eat gluten free, he does and it costs a fortune. A year ago I was doing the Pick me dance and devastated beyond belief. What a difference 12 months makes. I just want it over. Maybe by spring.

        • I made him cart away all the master bedroom furniture, and I scoured that room top to bottom: threw away all the closet hangers, painted the ceiling, changed all the sockets/light switches/light fixtures, refinished the wood trim, painted the closet and walls, sanded the hardwood floors….

          And refused to use it as a bedroom for three years. Call it a fear of bad juju, but I stayed the hell out of there. Gave it over to teenage DD and friends for her high school years with a brand new enormous flat screen tv and sectional couch. (Black Friday purchase, the first time I’d ever gone because Ex refused to ever join in the revelry – it was a blast!)

          Only now am I ready to reclaim that room, now that DD has moved on to college. It will be my Boudoir, crystal chandelier and all.

          • That is a hoot! You really got him out from under your skin. When we moved into this house last June, I took the master suite. He was devastated and demanded to know why I got the suite and he got a smaller bedroom with the bath down the hall. I said pointedly, “I’ve earned it.” He has never said another word about it. I also knew that when I finally get him out of here, I can stay put. The suite is decorated exactly as I want it, in my taste, the way I never could have done it before. When he exits, all I have to do is scrub that half of the house and I will feel like I am in a brand new place of my own. Can’t believe you really dug in with the painting, sanding, etc. Yeah for you! Now just hope I don’t have to sell the house and split the proceeds. We’ll see.

            • LOL! sage smudging was perhaps the one thing I missed. But I’m convinced my karma has changed, and the bad juju is gone, gone, gone.

              • A friend gifted me a whole kit to do just that. I am waiting until he gets all his stuff out of here though. (Hopefully in the next two or three weeks he’ll find time.) Never done it before, but hey, I’m game to give it a try.

    • First Christmas post d-day I thought I was going to die. Seriously – I thought my devastated heart would stop beating.

      Second Christmas post d-day I was still fumbling and stumbling toward new traditions but feeling oh-so-much better.

      This, my third Christmas post d-day I will be at the Grand Canyon with my new sweetheart and our college age daughters.

      No shit when Tracy tells us the best is just waiting for us!

  • Christmas Day last year was the day my ex told me he wasn’t happy but insisted there was no other woman. So, without a doubt, this year’s Christmas will be a million times better. I threw out our old tree and got a new one, and will start a new tradition with my son. We’re spending Christmas somewhere warm, right on the beach. We always hosted Christmas and I have to admit I will miss my ex’s family. They are good people and his parents have noticeably aged this year. But, I will not miss doing all the cleaning and cooking while my ex was with his girlfriend (I thought he was elsewhere). Last year, he showed up late for Christmas dinner with his family. Nope, not going to miss that at all. Above all, I will be spending the holidays without lies, deceit and drama. And save a ton of money by not having to buy presents for his family.

  • Speaking of re-directing:

    The original Christmas story is a little more dysfunctional than you might think.

    God originally married the nation of Israel, then got a divorce when Israel starting cheating with the neighboring gods.

    But God had a one-night stand with Mary, and she got knocked up. Which put a real crimp in her fiance Joseph’s plans. Eventually Joseph agreed to overlook it, and went through with the wedding.

    And there you have the first Christmas, celebrated by a newborn with a divorced Dad, Mom & Step-dad. Poor Joseph: the AP was always present.

    A bit of a lighthearted interpretation, but its a good reminder that “dysfunctional” families have always been the rule, rather than the exception.

  • Last year was our first without X, and while it was weird and we all felt forced to try to enjoy, there were moments I’ll treasure. Like not having to wait for himself to take a shower and shave and get dressed while children were waiting to open their gifts. It was torture when they were little. Not having to oooohhh and aaahhh over used Wii’s and boxes of stolen paper from his temp office job. Not having to wonder why we had to spend EVERY Christmas Eve at his family’s house while the kids were bored out of their minds while Dad drank booze with the adult cousins and reminisced about the “good old days” from their youth.

    Nope. Not missing that at all. When I realized the holidays were also all about him and what he wanted, I gave up the Norman Rockwell fantasy, and started to appreciate the stolen moments of joy that are inherent with the season. Christmas is one day. The holiday season lasts from Thanksgiving through New Years. And now that Bob Bummer isn’t living here, the holidays are shaping up to be very, very fun indeed!

    P.S. One of my sister’s once exclaimed (after her daughter projectile vomited over the holiday dinner table because “everyone has a sit down meal at Christmas) that Norman Rockwell was an “asshole” for making the American Dream a fantasy. Love her for that! 🙂

  • Last year’s thanksgiving was so awful that this year has to be better especially since I don’t have to deal with STBXH’s shenanigans! He was “sick” last year so I went to family thanksgiving on my own with our daughter to come home to an empty house and a husband with a “dead” cellphone. That day is on my list of top worst memories and reasons why I’m moving on to a better life.

    • Oh Dazed..

      5 years ago, when we were still together my Dad died on Nov. 1. He was my closest friend and I have a HUGE family. I usually work on TG but to help support my stepmom we all agreed to bond for her and go to my sisters house, where all of her in laws gather too. No one really wanted to, but you support your family, right? He and I got ready and as I was walking out the door, keys in hand waiting for him to get up from the couch he told me he “changed his mind” I had to go…alone…and listen to this huge group of members ask where he was…..will never, ever forget it. Oh, and he walked out on my work Christmas Party. A formal dinner for 200. Oh yes Good Times…he wasn’t seated “quickly” enough….

  • Yes, it can’t be like was before. . .everything has changed since the divorce AND my beloved Mum passed, so now it’s different. I strive to make it different good, not different bad. Since the kids have to report to the ex’s for every year (just the way it is) we pick a different day for the full meal. On, I put pies in the oven, pull out all the Christmas decorations and when the kids come home, having had their uncomfortable meal at the new wife’s parent’s house, we put on the Christmas music, eat pie and go full-steam a head to Christmas and put up the tree. It’s become a fun tradition over the last 2 years and I plan to do it again this year. I stay busy during the day with pie baking and hauling all those boxes down from the crawl-space and before I know it, the kids are home and they instantly switch gears and dive in the holiday boxes. It’s not the I had for 20+ married years, it’s not my traditional childhood It’s my new-life and it’s the best I can do for now.

  • My family started a new tradition after my parents divorced. My brother and I would do Christmas Eve with my father’s family and then spend Christmas Day with my mother’s family. It only worked because my father’s family still liked my mother after they split up. Christmas will be a couple of weeks after my divorce is final, so I just hope I’m not a complete mess that day. But if I am a complete mess, so be it. After all, last Christmas I was actually in the middle of my pick-me dance, so at least I’m not doing that anymore.

  • I’ve never really had much choice in the matter, but I’ve always been pretty good with being alone… Making my own traditions etc.

    For me though, I don’t even have someone to put on the “emergency contact” or next of kin lists.

    So yes, I volunteer a lot and have done so for many organizations for the last 16 years.

    I still wouldn’t mind one day having a “someone” … Even if only to let them know I’m dead and ask what to do with the body … before the cats eat me lol.

    • I know what you mean…after we divorced last month, my doctor asked about NOK and emergency contact and I asked, “how about you?” Should have seen her face!
      But there’s so much kick-butt wisdom on this board. I am SO glad not to go to my xSIL’s and watch those losers obsess over high-school marching band, peewee football and working at Waffle House! We were married 16 yrs and they never liked me; I was still a Yankee snob just b/c I’d been to college. And XH wouldn’t go ANYWHERE at the holidays b/c we “had to” be with his family — and they wouldn’t even talk to us when we got there! (We didn’t have kids, so didn’t really exist.) And going away would have interfered with his gym time….and GUESS who was there??
      XH had zero interest in anything to do w/me at the holidays and pretty much any other time during the last two years. Like the night before I had to go in for (thankfully, minor) surgery for bladder cancer. Guess where he had to go to “relieve some stress.” Oh, you guessed…hmm, I’m not so unusual after all.
      So this year, back up North to see my oldest, dearest friends, their crazy friends/families at Thanksgiving and then Rome for Xmas! You hang in there, fellow chumps! If we can survive these asshats, we can survive a few days on the end of the calendar!

      • Suzanne,

        Its too bad we can’t connect for the holidays.

        “I was still a Yankee snob just b/c I’d been to college.”

        If it helps any, I’m from the South, and stuck up here in Yankee territory because we have a kid together. And 10+ years later, in some social circles I’m still “slow and dumb” ’cause I’m from the South, *even though* I’ve been to college.

        I guess one thing we can all count on: Prejudice is universal.

  • I’ve read every post and thinking about how to handle the holidays. The first thing that really came to mind is getting through Thanksgiving. I immediately thought of what I could be thankful for and I am embarrassed to say, I am thankful and grateful for unanswered prayers…especially the pick me dance. Thank you God for knowing better than I, what was best for me. I will try not to ignore your wise decisions in the future.

    • Yoder, I am with you on this. When my marriage broke up, I was initially angry with God. Nowadays, I cannot stop thanking Him for knowing what’s best for me. My ex needed to be removed from my life for me to have the life that I deserved.

  • Actually, every holiday or other traditional gathering (4th of July picnic, etc.) is better for me without STBX, since he always complained about how hard it was to hang out with my family. We were too loud. It was just too intense for him. So he always found an excuse to show up late, leave early, go for a 4-6 hour bike ride, etc. etc. Now I can talk and laugh and make all the damn noise I want with my sisters, cousins, nieces, nephews and others who join us for our boisterous gatherings.

  • My kids seem to really enjoy, at least for the moment, knowing that the traditions can live on, even in a reconfigured family. Thanksgiving is earlier and less of a big deal up here in the Frozen North; this year, we did the ‘traditional’, with two other families. Lots of kids running around ( bribed my young teens to entertain the younger ones, worked great!), mismatched cutlery and adults pitching in to stir the gravy, slice the turkey and deal w/the dishes. DAMN it was nice! Especially so because having people over to eat was something the ex and I really enjoyed together and did as a team, so it was good to see it could be manageable and just as much fun without him!

  • My XH didn’t exactly ruin all holidays. He just refused to show up. He was always “working” (still don’t know if that means getting drunk in his car somewhere, or hooking up with a woman…). I always felt so sad and alone at the holidays.

    D-day was in mid May 2012. He moved in with OW at my suggestion almost immediately, and then he decided that he wanted to come back home that Memorial Day. Here is the saddest part; part of my happiness at having him come home that day was that I wouldn’t be alone for yet another holiday where people are supposed to gather with family. It is painful to remember how messed up my thought process was at that time, but so good to know that my sanity soon returned once I went NC.

    Being free from him finally gives me a chance to create traditions and enjoy the holidays for the first time in my adult life.

  • You know what I won’t miss? The disappointment. I would spend countless hours shopping for gifts for his family and put a lot of thought and money into finding the perfect gift for him. The last few years his gift to me was a plain white envelope with some cash in it. Poor baby was too busy working to buy me a present. I told myself that it was selfish of me to get hung up on material things, but the lack of effort should have told me something. Then he’d inevitably have to run to work for a while, leaving me with his family. Ugh.

    Will be so nice to be away from that selfish asswipe.

    • My H does not do holidays. When we were younger he was so much fun to plan holidays with and carry out all the plans. For the last decade I never received a card for gift for Christmas, birthday, anniversary, etc., nothin’. There was one exception, our 33 anniversary. He finally got me a wedding ring. Should have known it was the beginning of the end.

  • Technically Turkey day is my holiday this year, but Andy “volunteered” to drive our daughter down to my parents (3 states away) so she can spend T-day with my family. Since I have to work Fri, I figured if I couldn’t spend the holiday with my family, at least she could.

    So its just gonna be me, myself & I for Turkey Day.

    And ya know, between being sick for a week straight, working obscene hours every weekend I don’t have baby girl, and just in general exhaustion of being a single parent who works outside the home & moonlights as a novelist on the side–I think I just might be okay with a weekend of not doing much of anything.

    Last year, I coped by not watching any of the traditional “family” programs, and created some new traditions–like watching the T-day parade & seeing how many firemen showed up with the kitchen ignited. I kid. My cooking isn’t quite that bad, though Andy certainly had my confidence in the sub-basement toilet. I’ve only had a couple of things come out completely inedible, and only managed to give myself food poisoning a couple of times.

    For someone who was forbidden to do so much as scramble eggs, or pour batter into a waffle iron, until I was 35–I’m thinking that’s a pretty good track record.

    Maybe I’ll make it a day of baking, see what I can manage to coax out of the recalcitrant oven. If I’m lucky, I turn things just in time to get everything cooked–otherwise my oven tends to cinder half the food & leave the other half raw.

    Good times.

    • I had an oven like that for a few years, it started to feel like a battle of wills to get things to come out evenly baked! This oven’s fave was scorched on the outside and still raw on the inside, but it did uneven very well too.

      Sometimes a couple of days when no one expects us to do ANYTHING can be a huge gift. Take care of yourself!

  • Thanks for this.

    I really had a horrible Christmas last year. My ex broke up with me for the second time since our year-long relationship, and left me in the lurch. By that I mean, I was supposed to go visit my sister and her husband (as I usually do) since I live in Canada on my own and she lives in the States, and he promised to come spend Christmas with me (we were long-distance due to his job, at the time) so I shelved my plans to spend Christmas with my sister. Then, he dragged his feet on booking his flight, and then eventually told me it was “too expensive”, and broke up with me, 2 days before Christmas. I ended up spending Christmas and New Year’s on my own, since all my friends were spending it with their families, or were out of town. It was horrible. I cried my eyes out, treated myself to home-made dinner, cried some more, and went to bed. This breakup happened a few months after he had cheated on me in Thailand, btw. I only found out in April of THIS year. He reconnected with me after New Year ‘s , and wanted to get back together.. I found the pictures & videos of his sex acts with his prostitute-gf in April of this year. The only thing I regret: not kicking him out and leaving him to fend for himself in a city where he had nowhere to go. He could’ve easily shacked up in a hotel with all the hotel points he gets from his business traveling, which he then uses to spend 2 weeks in the Hilton in Thailand, f*cking STD-infested whores. He could’ve spent it on a hotel here, instead of me being miserable having to put up with seeing him after seeing those pictures. Anyway, this year, I am going to visit my sister over Christmas, and I want to forget all about last Christmas. Even if I do spend Christmas on my own, it’s no big deal : I’ll do things for myself, treat myself to something nice, etc. It’s good. I like my life the way it is: hassle-free, no egg-shells, no abuse, no constant worrying about whether he’s in one of his unpredictable moods, etc. I love it. But also, in the future, I will never put off my plans for a man. Family always comes first. Live and learn.

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