Divorce can be fun. OK, that’s a lie. Divorce isn’t fun — it’s dreadful. But what follows divorce can be fun. Some of it. One thing is fun for sure: the divorce party.
We have more rituals to mark beginnings than ends (death and mourning rituals are big exceptions). Weddings are big deals, but there aren’t established ways to solemnize, or, dare I say it, celebrate divorce.
Let’s be clear: I’m not talking about being happy when marriages, especially marriages involving children, crash and burn. No one opts for divorce lightly. Some of us don’t opt for it at all. We wind up in court when all else fails. Or when our spouses take us there.
Whatever causes a breakup, surviving takes resilience and strength. In my case, that strength came from my faith, my children and my friends. A small party was a way to celebrate my survival and thank the friends who’d seen me through.
I could’ve marked my return to singlehood with something dramatic. I’m sure that would be right for many. I’ve heard, for example, about women building bonfires in which to reduce the detritus of a marriage to ashes. But by the time I left the courtroom a free woman, I’d had more than enough drama. I wanted to have fun. I wanted my friends to have fun, too.
Keeping it simple, I went with an all-girl brunch — though the man in my life, who gamely kept my children busy at his place so they didn’t even know the party was happening, crashed the party briefly when he got hungry.
Set a festive table with decor that reflects who you are. Reflecting fresh starts, your motif could be spring flowers — or you may feel more like battle fatigue green. I didn’t want to deny I’d been emotionally battered. I wanted to make fun of it, with a blood red theme. I set my table with a deep red damask cloth, and, not having matching napkins, the nicest bright red paper ones I could find. Bringing main dishes into the dining room, I left desserts in the kitchen, ringing chocolates and cookies around a cardboard tombstone bearing the dates of my marriage and divorce. No photos of the couple in happier times. A little macabre humor: fine. Maudlin sentiment: not.
Going with my red-stuff scheme, I served Bloody Marys and smoked salmon. Otherwise the menu was relaxed brunch fare including baked Brie, a variety of breads, raw vegetables and spreads. For those preferring peach to tomato juice, I mixed a pitcher of Bellinis. In a busy single-mother-of-three weekend, I didn’t have time to stress, though I would’ve loved to cook a meal. If you’ve got time, do it. Center your menu on foods you love.
Someone suggested I make a piñata symbolizing the marriage, filled with things for the newly single girl — condoms and vibrators, specifically — and incite an act of group violence. I loved the creativity of this idea but didn’t take it. My party favors, candles and chocolates, reflected the limited time and cash I had on hand at that point. Still, as symbols of light and pleasure, I could’ve done worse.
Speaking of light and pleasure: the playlist. Depending on your age, divorce and musical inclinations, you might go for Hank Williams Sr.’s “Your Cheatin’ Heart” or Taylor Swift’s “We are Never Ever Getting Back Together.” We mothers of invention made music of our own. After the meal, we took a walk down my (mercifully deserted) road and my friends, who’d already done so much, indulged my passion for Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.” Fittingly, we sang it together.