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If this is your first Christmas without your spouse, it is going to be different from the Christmases you shared. Do not even try to do things the same way. They won’t feel the same and the absence will loom even larger in the empty space. Rather, try to change some traditions. If Christmas was always celebrated at your house, then go to a relative’s or friend’s. If your major celebration was Christmas Day, switch the celebration to Christmas Eve. Change the sequence: Open presents after church instead of before, or try midnight mass instead of a morning service. You even have the option to skip it all. You can use the money you would have spent on the presents to take your kids on a winter vacation.

The first year is the worst. Believe it or not, by the second year, you will notice that new traditions and rituals have evolved from the year before. By the second year, you will have created new memories of the first one and the sting will be gone.

Acknowledge this year is different; talk to your kids and family about making some changes. Get enough sleep, spend less, eat less, drink less, and sleep more. The good news is a week after Christmas, a New Year begins.

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