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3 ways to make the holidays smoother after a divorce or breakup

Almost everyone's been there: the first holiday season after a breakup or divorce. From family Christmas dinner to the New Year's ball drop, nothing is going to feel quite the same. Worse yet, you're worried about the questions from family members who just don't get it. Will they ask where your ex is, or criticize you for ending the relationship?

But before you decide to hibernate until January 2, here are a few ways to make it through the season intact - and maybe even have some fun in the process.

1. Rally your support network.

Before a big family gathering, enlist the help of the family member you think will be most supportive - your sister, say, or your favorite cousin or perpetually single uncle - and let them know what you're worried about and how they can help. It might be as simple as removing you from the situation when things get uncomfortable (they really need help serving drinks right now!) or it could be vocally advocating for you if a relative starts criticizing your life choices.

If you're invited to a gathering where you're not sure you'll have an ally, ask if you can bring a friend.

2. Be prepared to change the subject.

You certainly don't have to talk about your love life. A simple, "I don't want to talk about that right now" should suffice. But for relatives who love to pry, having a few other conversation topics up your sleeve might help you redirect the conversation to more comfortable topics - like a latest work project you're proud of, your cute cat or even politics. You can ask your supportive family members to help steer the conversation, too.

3. Take time for yourself.

New Year's is a natural time for reflection and new beginnings. Make you have some alone time - even if it's just while walking the dog - to reflect and recharge. You don't have to make New Year's resolutions, but taking pen to paper and writing down your thoughts for going forward can help you relieve stress and focus on better days to come.

With the right balance of alone time and support from loving family and friends, the holiday season might not only be bearable - but also give you some hope for going forward in the new year. 

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