Nick & Jessica: Inside the Split

Nick & Jessica: Inside the Split
"I think their lives were pulling them in different directions, and they kind of had different ideas of what their marriage should be," a source close to Lachey says of the couple (last year).
Kevin Mazur/WireImage

12/01/2005 AT 06:00 AM EST

There were aunts and uncles, parents and grandparents, plus plenty of potatoes and pie to go around. But at the Simpson family Thanksgiving celebration in Waco, Texas, on Nov. 24, there was one notable absence: Nick Lachey, whose split from wife Jessica had been announced just one day earlier. "We were sad he wasn't there – we missed him," Jessica's uncle Gary Simpson told PEOPLE. "He is a good guy and we all liked him. We were sorry he wasn't part of the group. There was an empty place."

Despite the still-raw breakup, his niece "is holding up fine," he adds. "She's going to be okay. I know it must be rough on her, but she's doing good." Surfacing three days after the Thanksgiving festivities, the newly single Simpson betrayed no hint of heartache. "She looked great," says an observer at South Beach Tan, a tanning salon in Studio City, Calif., where Simpson – minus her wedding band – and a female pal showed up on Nov. 27. "One of the employees asked her how her Thanksgiving was, and she said, It was beautiful.' She was almost chipper."

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