The holidays are here…again!
For some of us, it is a time of family bonding, tradition, great food, and new scarves. For others, it can be a time of high anxiety and stress, awkward family moments, traveling nightmares, and unnecessary financial strain.
Lost amongst the bright lights, goodwill, and indulgence are the millions of us who find ourselves completely alone for the holidays.
I was delighted when asked to write about this topic because I have vast experience flying alone through the holiday skies.
You see, I was raised by my grandparents, who were very religious and not big into “secular’ holiday practices. This greatly influenced how I experienced and valued the holiday season. Thanksgiving consisted of dinner at my grandfather’s favorite seafood restaurant, where the waitress was old enough to call my grandparents “kids” and get away with it.
Christmas was $300 to $400 in cash from my grandmother and a Christmas night church service. Done. None of the usual holiday fuss and fanfare. The holiday season was never fully engraved in my psyche. To me, they were no big deal.
However, my environment changed when I entered college. I was in a community where everyone had strong emotional ties to the holidays. When the first holiday break rolled around, I found myself alone on a quiet campus, except for a sprinkling of foreign students. I avoided invites to friends homes because I disliked feeling like an outsider in family situations, and a flight from Minnesota to D.C. to eat rockfish served by Myrtle just wasn’t happening.
I went through episodes of feeling alone and left out. But then, as life often does, my perseverance was rewarded with a breakthrough. I realized this was a unique opportunity to get to know myself, uninterrupted or influenced by my social world and persona.
I read, I wrote, I painted, I cooked. It was magical! I even bought myself a gift, had the store wrap it, and gave it to myself! Funny, but true!.
After that first holiday alone it became a personal tradition, broken only when I was in a serious relationship.
Now I look forward to it as a time of introspection and self-discovery. I still have moments of loneliness, but they soon cool like a hot cup of tea…then AHHH!…Perfect!
So if you find yourself alone this holiday season — for social, financial, or circumstancial reasons — cheer up, be thankful, and make it special!
Here’s how to celebrate the holidays even when you are alone:
FREE YOUR MIND
I realized that the reason I was feeling down while going through the holidays alone was linked to the fact that I was not playing out the holiday “script”. Learning to let go of expectations of how the holidays “should” be opens up a whole new world of possibilities. Who says we all have to do the same things anyway? Life is a movie, but remember we are the writers and directors of our experience. You can change the script.
PLAN IT OUT
My grandfather always used to tell me about the five P’s. Proper. Planning. Prevents. Poor. Performance. This statement is always true, especially around the holidays. I usually have my day planned from morning to night. I simply do all the things I love on the same day. I watch the sunrise, workout, take a bath, meditate, read, do yoga, watch movies, listen to holiday music, and, of course, cook. It is wonderful “me” time. What do you “love” to do?
If finances are not the reason for your holiday solitude, then take yourself on a trip! A change of scenery can be spirit boosting. Travel can separate you from things that might trigger the holiday blues. In my twenties, I would travel from D.C. to Miami for Thanksgiving and to New York for Christmas. I always met new people and had amazing experiences.
I know it sounds redundant and cliché, but so does “drink lots of water.” The magic happens when we actually do it! We often get so engulfed with ourselves, and what we don’t have, we forget that we are blessed beyond measure. Volunteering to help those less fortunate will put perspective on things. Find a way to get involved. One of my most memorable holidays was when I volunteered at the Epilepsy Foundation handing out food and gifts. I didn’t receive one gift that year, but I felt so complete and grateful!
So, to all my solo holiday flyers…no pity parties this year!! Be empowered, be proactive, get to know yourself more, give, and be thankful!
Happy Holidays to you ALL!