December 20, 2016

The “Happy Holidays—I’m Divorced” Card.



“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth.” ~ Buddha

I am that person that still sends stamped holiday cards through snail mail.

I know, why bother?   

But I have always looked forward to selecting a perfect card and finding the most engaging family picture. And of course I love describing all the things that happened over the past year.

The annual card process rooted me somehow. My mother had sent a newsletter every year, and continuing this tradition validated my life and achievements. And though I tried not to make the card a laundry list of how amazing my family was, in hindsight, it probably read like a brag sheet. And as a result, it was not entirely truthful.

We didn’t always keep in touch during the year with the friends on our card list, so we used the holiday card to update everyone on our family happenings.

We announced our marriage in a card. We announced the birth of both our children in our holiday card. And we announced our vow renewal in our holiday card.

And last year, I alone had to decide whether to announce our divorce in my holiday card.

Even going forward with the tradition so soon after my November divorce was a tough decision.

My marriage had fallen apart. I had failed to keep my family intact. And now I was faced with the choice of informing my near and long-distance friends of what had happened. Or I could burrow even deeper into the self-pitying hole I was inhabiting.

I kept asking myself if it was necessary to keep the holiday card tradition going. “Couldn’t we just skip this year? I am having a hard enough time getting up in the morning—aren’t I doing enough?”

But the online card company I always use kept contacting me. They sent me emails. They sent me catalogs full of cards with happy smiling intact families. They lured me in with their foiled paper, streamlined designs and witty captions.

So I capitulated. The divorce was not going to keep from a tradition I loved. It wasn’t going to beat me.

In the past, I had always created a card with many pictures and detailed descriptions of what each family member had accomplished.

This year, I was going to observe the yoga restraint of Satya or truthfulness. This restraint guides us to act with integrity, to communicate things as they are, not as we wish them to be.

So I produced a simple postcard with one picture of my children. The text on the back of the postcard was almost Twitter-like in its brevity. No bragging about achievements—just the naked, simple truth.

The first sentence of the card was:

“2015 was a year of change for our family.”

I wondered if understating was considered untruthful.

Then I took three sentences to mention one child’s transition to a new school and the other child’s growth in height. And I then mentioned the yoga teacher and yoga therapy training I was pursuing. The remaining text was as follows:

“We divorced in the fall.

So many transitions to process, but with love, patience and caring, we had a year of positive personal growth in 2015. Wishing you all a wonderful Holiday Season and a 2016 full of Joy, Love and Peace.”

I sent the cards with trepidation. Was it in poor taste to send a “Happy Holidays—I’m Divorced” card?

The response from my friends and family was amazingly warm. By following the restraint of Satya, I managed to communicate my difficult year with grace and integrity. And as a result I was able to reconnect with my personal community and gather strength for the next part of my journey.

Where might the restraint of Satya be helpful to you this holiday season?

“A person experiences life as something separated from the rest—a kind of optical delusion of consciousness. Our task must be to free ourselves from this self-imposed prison, and through compassion, to find the reality of Oneness.” ~ Albert Einstein


Author: Donna Kling

Image: Courtesy of author; YouTube

Editor: Nicole Cameron

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