Alone for the Holidays?


By: , SparkPeople Blogger

I知 going to be spending Christmas day alone, for the first time in quite a while. My granddaughter and her adults are heading south to visit her mom痴 family this year, and my other kids are heading to Montana to visit their mom. I was invited to go along but decided to stay home this year.

Surprisingly, I知 actually looking forward to it.

The last time this happened, I spent my time with my head full of all those images you see in the media about how Christmas is 都upposed to be: smiling families all gathered around an elaborately laid out banquet, opened packages stacked up under the tree, kids playing with their toys, lovers sipping wine and gazing into each other痴 eyes while a fire blazes in the fireplace. And there I was, all alone and wondering what was wrong with me that I was missing the boat.

Well, not this year.

I may miss out on the festivities (which, in my experience, never are nearly as festive as they look in the media, because those images don稚 show all the work, stress, disappointments, and family problems that usually come with such unrealistic expectations of how things "should" be).

But I am going to do Christmas my way.

First of all, I知 going to listen to lots of Christmas carols釦he old fashioned religious ones, like this one殆ithout feeling like an alien. I am not a traditionally religious person (more of an eclectic with Taoist leanings), and the words in these carols don稚 mean much to me. But I love the music. And I don稚 get to listen to it much when the rest of the family is around, because they think it's worse than elevator or shopping mall music. I知 sure liking this stuff has something to do with growing up in a very Irish Catholic environment, but wherever it comes from, I do like it and I芭 going to listen to it this year as much as I want.

I致e also developed a personal 鍍radition I try to observe every year on Christmas morning. I set aside some time to do a little 妬nventory of the past year, looking at how I致e done with my goals, how I知 feeling about myself and life in general, and where I壇 like to be a year from now. Then I try to come up with some concrete goals and plans for the coming year to help me get there.

When I'm done with that, I知 going to throw some lentils (red and green, of course), carrots, onions, nuts, celery, corn, olives, garlic, serrano peppers, and mushroom broth in the crock pot so it can make a nice dinner for me. While the crock pot is doing that, I知 going to ride my bike about 15 miles up to Patrick痴 Point State Park, walk along the cliffs overlooking the ocean for an hour or so, and ride back.

I'm also making myself a little treat for dessert--a bar of Dagoba dark chocolate, spread with chunky peanut butter, and left in the refrigerator for a few hours. Mmmm....

After dinner, I値l call all the kids and say hello. Then I think I値l watch a movie, or maybe listen to more Christmas music.

All in all, it sounds like a pretty good day to me. And when you get right down to it, that痴 what Christmas is撲ne day out of many. Whatever special meaning it has, or reminds us about, is something that needs to be reflected in all the other 364 days of the year, too, or it really isn稚 all that meaningful. Or so it seems to me.

And I think that痴 what I致e really learned between this Christmas and the last time I spent the day alone. If I知 feeling like there痴 something missing in my life, or something I want that I don稚 have, who I spend Christmas with isn稚 going to fix that problem, and isn't the cause of it, either. It痴 what I do all the time that痴 going to make the difference.

So, this year I知 celebrating紡nd enjoying釦he changes I致e made in my life that make me feel better, including healthy eating, being physically active, enjoying a bike ride and walk in a very pleasant place, and thinking about how to keep this process of change and growth going and expanding in the coming year.

Are you going to be alone over the holidays? What have you got planned for yourself? Do you have any personal rituals or traditions you observe?

If you池e looking for ideas, or feeling down, here痴 a website with some suggestions:

10 Things to Do If You're Alone for the Holidays

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  • 174
    Thank you so much for this post. I think I shall do some very similar things! :) - 12/25/2012   12:53:09 AM
    its sad the ones that not have familys - 12/24/2012   11:28:59 PM
  • 172
    I've been posting this every year on my SparkTeam. I realized that I neglected to post my thanks for this wonderful blog!

    Thank You Coach Dean! - 12/24/2011   6:40:27 PM
  • 171
    Christmas is just another day in my life. My Ex & I used to spend Christmas morning looking for a cafe that was open until we found Bill's Fish & Chip Shop. Bill is religious but doesn't celebrate holidays & that was just fine with us. Christmas & New Year's meant breakfast with all the other folks who had no one to celebrate with so we all met each other at Bill's!! We had a great few years until Bill sold the cafe! Now I'm on my own & make sure I appear at my local Starbucks to thank everyone who volunteers to work the holidays. I knit a scarf or washcloth for everyone on shift. Then I go over to the Sushi cafe & order lunch. I try to get a walk in if the weather co-operates & otherwise just enjoy the peace & quiet the day usually brings. - 12/16/2011   12:36:15 PM
  • 170
    My husband and I will be celebrating Christmas by ourselves this year. We have not decided whether or not we will invite some friends over yet or if it will be just us. Our children are both in Canada with their children and the niece who lives with us will be going to visit with her family. We are OK for this situation and it may be fun just being the two of us. - 12/9/2010   11:54:28 AM
  • HOLI_H
    Being alone for the holidays once or twice in your life is ok, it might even be fun, but if it's a regular occurance, or if it looks like it might become a recurring pattern of your life, you should redirect the direction of your life. Connect with people who need you as much as you need them. If your family is too far away, too busy, or you just don't have any healthy extended family, then create one of your own. matches adults to create extended family relationships. It's a fantastic help for those alone for the holidays. All the best! - 11/27/2009   4:59:16 PM
  • 168
    I've spent several Christmases on my own. Usually I find them restful. It's like being in a little bubble in the middle of the storm of festivities. - 11/20/2009   7:37:54 AM
  • 167
    I spent Christmas with my little sister. We hung out in NYC and had a ball. My mother was in Jamaica visiting her father. My older sister lives in Florida and my older brother has completely removed himself from our family. - 1/5/2009   9:09:22 PM
    I am not alone for the Holidays but it seems alot different. We usualy have hubbys entire family. He has 3 sisters and 2 brothers and then there are the cousins, aunts uncles, all in all ove 25 family members. This year though is different. His mom passed away a few years aago so each year less and less of the family show up. Now this year seems we are all doing our own things at our own place. My family is 45 minutes away and they wont come and I dont have a car so I cant go there. Anyways, it was nice, not like usual and never ever like on t.v lol We will get to start our own traditions now and see what we can do I guess. - 12/31/2008   7:08:15 PM
  • 165
    My hubby is deployed and I am kinda alone for the holidays, except that I have three kids to help me through though :) We are used to this, I guess, and we don't really do much for the holidays, but this time I've made a friend with someone else in the unit and we're getting through it together, which is helpful. Tonight (New Years Eve), we are going to make some New Years resolutions :) It will help us through another year. - 12/31/2008   11:21:07 AM
  • 164
    I can't imagine spending Christmas completely alone. Last year was the first year my son and I did not wake up on the same house on christmas in 28 years. Also the first time I had ever been away from my mother during the holidays in my entire life. This year we will all togehter and it was much better. I applause anyone who can spend the holidays by themselves and be peaceful with it. - 12/29/2008   4:55:32 PM
    My holidays were spent home alone for the most part my kids stopped by but only for a couple of hours. My husband went to his mothers. I chose to be alone this year..the holidays in the past have been too stressful because my husbands sisters fight and they make my mother in-law unhappy, angry and then she cries which to me is not a holiday. So this year i chose to avoid that and stay home alone. which turned out ot be a nice night despite the fact i got the flu christmas morning. worked til 1:pm and came home my husband left for his moms by 4pm the kids came over by 5and left by 7:30. I was in bed by 7:45 so christmas wasn't that bad. I got to be with my children and that's all that matters - 12/29/2008   1:02:05 PM
  • 162
    Great outlook! I think I would have liked to have the Christmas music and movies. - 12/29/2008   8:28:03 AM
  • 161
    I was prepared for Christmas Day, but not for the days following. Alone and lonely is a bad combination. I've managed to get through them but I can't say it was easy. Note to year, plan for the entire holiday. - 12/28/2008   7:42:54 PM
  • 160
    I also spend Christmas alone too. It's not that I wanted to but I'm currently deployed and I'm over 5000 miles away from my family. The holidays are the hardest part of the deployment. I'm almost through the holiday and we are on the downhill slide to going home. YEA!!! - 12/28/2008   12:43:48 PM
  • 159
    The music is really nice, I'm listening as I read the article, and post the comment...The bike ride to Patrick's Point sounds great too, it brings back the memories, we used to go camping there when I was a kid, it's such a beautiful area! - 12/28/2008   10:02:36 AM
    Your day sounds great! My Thanksgiving and Easter are holidays where I am usually alone,and I do what you do on Christmas(without the music, and the chocolate, of course). - but I do reflect on how I can change things, and be a better person. A holiday is one day- out of many.

    Thank you for sharing your day. I hope you have a great 2009!
    Pat - 12/28/2008   9:34:04 AM
  • 157
    I think it's wonderful how much in tune you are with your own Spirit! I am always amazed at how many people are terrified of being alone with themselves for longer than a few hours. Thank you for showing what it's like when you really like who you are as a person and can enjoy time alone.
    HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!!! - 12/27/2008   8:28:37 PM
  • 156
    I'm not going to be alone this Christmas, but someday I may be. If that happens, I think I will not spend the entire day alone. Christmas calls me to be part of a community, whether it is family or other human beings. I will look for a place where I can offer my hands and heart to others in need, perhaps a soup kitchen or something like that. I will attend church too. Then, I will nestle in and listen to Christmas music, fixing myself a meal of healthful food that also includes things I love. I won't be too fixated on abstenance from fat and sugar, but I will want to love myself after I've eaten, so I'll be sensible. And... that is what I'm doing today, getting right back on the narrow way to health after a joyous moderate time with my family. - 12/27/2008   6:53:19 PM
  • 155
    I really enjoyed this blog. I wasn't alone this Christmas but enjoyed a very quiet Christmas Eve with my DH and 5 yr old daughter. It was so nice not to be rushing all over the place. Great music link, BTW. - 12/27/2008   4:59:59 PM
    I was somewhat alone for the first time this Christmas. My daughter was here but she ended up staying at a friend's home Christmas eve, she came home for a little bit on Christmas and then went to visit another friend overnight. I ended up taking myself to the movies in the evening. I like my solitude most of the time, it also gives me time to reflect on the past year and figure out what I'm going to be doing in the new year. Living in Manhattan you are constantly surronded by people on the streets and it feels good to be away from the hustle of daily life. - 12/27/2008   3:06:50 PM
  • 153
    Wow, after reading this blog, I wish I could have been alone!

    Happy New Year 2009 - 12/27/2008   1:30:52 PM
  • 152
    I wasn't alone at all on Christmas, I actually ran to 3 different places, but it wasn't as stressful as I thought it would be. I hosted the big Christmas Eve dinner for 14, but my boyfriends 19-yr old got stuck in Ohio with a dead car. That was our stress. "Dad must be made of money, so he will just buy me a new car and I'll go home for Christmas".
    Not only did we stress about the car, but also about her being there alone. Fortunately she was with family, but their Mom died last year, so we were realy trying to make this a big Christmas for them, and then she never made it home.

    I worked my way home last night so that I could have a day to myself today. This was my first year with a "family" of my own. My boyfriend has 2 little ones too, so Christmas day was all about them. I decided I really needed a day to myself, so I said I was coming home to clean up after the mess of hiding every gift at my place and just running in and out.

    I've got Christmas music playing and I'm cleaning for one CD, then I'm going to do some exercise and then clean again. It's raining here, but it's supposed to be very warm later (for NY in Dec) so I'm looking forward to a walk even if it's in the rain.

    I loved having everyone around, but now I'm very excited about my day alone.
    Happy Holidays everyone! - 12/27/2008   10:05:30 AM
  • 151
    I am also snowed in but it is my first Christmas alone since my hubby passed away in September so it was a roller coaster ride for sure ... but I spent time on the telephone with friends and listening to Bronn Journeys harp music... who I am going to see in concert tonight:

    And I prayed alot...

    and enjoyed all the many critters around and gave them extra little Christmas treats...

    It is all about JESUS!!! - 12/27/2008   9:33:45 AM
    Hi, Coach Dean!

    I thoroughly enjoy the wry humor and quick wit that pepper and punctuate your articles. I hope you love your job with Spark as much as I appreciate having you on their team. You constantly inspire, motivate, teach, and guide. Thank you for a fantastic year. - 12/27/2008   8:58:46 AM
    i have four children. last year sepnt christmas with our son this time our daughter and family and 21 month old grandson.
    Son who is divorced spent it alone, drinking and over drinking. I am sad for him and wish we could have spent it with him also but they are in separate states - 12/26/2008   8:58:58 PM
  • 148
    My husband had to work on Christmas, I was left alone but I made the most ot it by watching old movies,made a few phone calls. I enjoy my time alone. - 12/26/2008   4:04:43 PM
  • 147
    I had my Christmas with my family last week. None of us felt the need to make a big deal of it - just an opportunity to spend some time together. Of course my dad made all my favorite dishes - adjusted to Weight Watchers standards of course. I went with a large suitcase because my sister informed me that I would be bringing my Christmas gifts home with me on the train. By the time I got home, my other sister had mailed my gifts from another state and I had a pile of gifts to look at for a few days.

    On Christmas day, I opened each gift and appreciated it on its' own. I looked at it from every angle and found the perfect spot for it before I moved on to the next one - in a family that tears into gifts until every one is opened without really looking, it was nice.

    I splurged on a roast which I sliced into with a huge salad, and even went all out and got a favorite salad dressing that I usually don't buy myself. The meal was even more enjoyable as I realized that I had enough left for several more meals including using the last of the roast in some sort of soup.

    A holiday alone is an opportunity to do exactly as you please. The only question you need to ask yourself is, did you take some time with each of the people you care about at some time during the year. Once you are satisfied with your answer to that question (even if you have to call someone and make arrangements to meet soon), it is up to you to decide what kind of quality time you want with yourself.
    - 12/26/2008   3:21:54 PM
  • 146
    This was a different Christmas for us - we celebrated early with some of our family and others are visiting in-laws many miles away. I was actually looking forward to being alone, dh and I took a drive along the coast and stopped in some shops along the wharf - less people and free parking it was so nice to see the sites without the crowds. We got a little exercise - ate when we were hungry and wasn't tempted with unwanted food. It was good. I really enjoy being with family for the holidays - but I really enjoyed the solitude this year too. - 12/26/2008   3:07:16 PM
  • 145
    I am a church musician, so I always have a "gig" the night of Xmas Eve, which is really fun because the singers all bring in Xmas at midnight together, and the church is packed and decorated gorgeously, with extra candles. Last year I had to spend Xmas Day alone, and it was a beautiful day-- I rode my bike down to the usually crowded, busy waterfront, and I had it all to myself. Stopped in at an open Starbucks and warmed my toes while I sipped my annual peppermint mocha (too high-calorie to indulge in often). I loved the peace of it!

    This year, my husband and I woke up irritable, with a food hangover, on Xmas Day with lots of expectations for perfection; I immediately escaped for a "short" bike ride which brought back that immediate peace that I felt last year. I stretched it out to two hours because it was just me and quiet nature, and no cars around. I came home with a brand-new, happy attitude.

    The older I get, the more I think Xmas should be a day for spiritual, peaceful reflection and meditation. Solitude is perfect for that. I love the connection to the pre-Christian holiday of the Winter Solstice, and I make sure to light candles as soon as night falls, to remind me of the sweet rhythm of nature.

    Have a wonderful holiday, Coach Dean and everybody else! - 12/26/2008   1:01:13 PM
  • CLOVER6266
    What a great posting. Hope you enjoyed your day! - 12/26/2008   11:41:53 AM
  • 143
    love the inventory -- meaning all 364 other days comment -- treats (the lentil dish rocks) and specific plans. noooooooooowwwwwwwwwww I need a dagoba bar with natural pb to taste test. - 12/26/2008   11:34:30 AM
  • 142
    I love this post!!! It has lots of deep meaning for me in so many areas. Thanks. blessings - 12/26/2008   11:19:27 AM
    While I don't usually spend the whole day alone......I do spend a considerable amount of the day......alone but definitely NOT lonely. My daughter came over yesterday in the early afternoon and we spent the rest of the day doing what she and I do best....talking about life and our jobs and family and so on.....all in all it was a lovely day.....AND I did speak to my son last nite....he is a few thousand miles away in Victoria BC....but he made sure he called......and that was a lovely thing....

    There are moments when I miss all the fuss of Christmas day and then I remember all that work and stress and anxiety and realize I have it good......cuz I do it MY way....NOT the way that is EXPECTED!!..........

    Today is my birthday - I turn 55 and I am looking forward to spending more time with my daughter....our tradition is to treat each other to a good meal out .....for our birthdays...

    You can be lonely in a crowd and you can be alone and full of love and self satisfaction - I choose the latter.....

    Cheers to all..... - 12/26/2008   10:28:08 AM
  • 140
    While I didn't spend Christmas alone, after reading this blog...I will not dread the day that I do and instead try to remember your day and plan one like it of my own. Thanks for sharing Coach Dean! - 12/26/2008   9:38:41 AM
  • 139
    I was excited about Christmas for the days upcoming with it...I can appreciate that for your first Christmas alone it would be different and something to plan for. But after spending many Christmas alone it isn't that happy. This is one Holiday that it makes it nice to be with a loved one. - 12/26/2008   8:47:50 AM
  • 138
    My DH and I spent Christmas day alone but we did spend Christmas Eve day with his son and grandchildren, had a nice meal together, then we left early to go to the Christmas Eve service at our church. It was so beautiful and we were surrounded by our wonderful church family. I was doubly blessed as I met a woman who had come alone to our church for the first time; she had lost her DH a few years ago and was lonely this year. We instantly became friends and I feel that this is going to be a close friendship, both in and out of church. An otherwise lonely Christmas became a joyful one for us all. - 12/26/2008   8:35:31 AM
  • GENTRY33
    Thanks for sharing this as it is a help. We never know when we might be in this situation. Christmas can be an emotional time and it always help me to keep my eyes on the Lord. When I take my focus off my problems and on Him, things are put into perspective. - 12/26/2008   7:19:21 AM
    This is the 1st year my husband and I spent the Christmas day alone also . It was quiet and empty . But I read some out of the Foxfire books and did'nt cook . That was really wierd . My favorite song being raised catholic also is Ava Maria . That song no matter when gives me goosebumps . I am glad you had a good alone holiday this year .But probably would'nt want it that way every year huh ? Plus look at all the calories I saved . lol - 12/26/2008   6:23:48 AM
    this year I did not spend chrisrmas alone and to tell the truth I miss the solituded of past years when I was alone for the holidays. I agree that stress and family issues are one of the reasons I like to be alone for the Holidays - 12/26/2008   6:09:37 AM
  • 134
    What a GREAT day! BTW - loved the music!! - 12/26/2008   6:09:30 AM
  • 133
    I am posting on the 26th but did spend Christmas on my own, mainly because I am in the middle of a night stretch at work. I do enjoy being by myself because it is easier to reflect on what is important to me, but church services were a bit lonley. I elected to stay at my sisters on Christmas day instead of with my family. I thought the nephews should be able to play without waking up their aunt. My kids are with their dad and having a good time, so I got to sleep. Nice. - 12/26/2008   4:32:21 AM
  • 132
    Holidays are always a mixed bag of emotions. We all have issues. Thanks for sharing and demonstrating it is possible to get through the holidays gracefully, no matter what our circumstance or geographical location. Happy holidays everyone. Hugs. - 12/25/2008   11:37:44 PM
  • 131
    I was alone this Christmas for the first time ever. I was surprisingly ok. I couldnt believe it, but I was. Spoke to some family on the phone, wrote in my journal, a little day dreaming. Very nice day. - 12/25/2008   11:28:27 PM
    Thanks for sharing, I love a peaceful quiet day alone. But one is never really alone, '
    BJ - 12/25/2008   11:19:17 PM
  • 129
    Thank You Coach Dean for sharing!! Merry Christmas!! It really touche my hear to read your post! God Bless You and Keep You!! - 12/25/2008   11:02:58 PM
  • 128
    After my hectic day I read you planned day and am jealousy but happy for you! I am a nurse and had to work a day shift today and on top of my usual unending list of to-do items today we all had do deal with the seniors and their families who have the "ideal" Christmas ingrained in their mind but are moody because like always it just doesn't meet up with the movies!! Then I came home to a family anxious to open the last few gifts (did most last night due to working). I hope you had a great day and thanks for the reminder to take "inventory" - 12/25/2008   10:33:13 PM
  • 127
    I hope you enjoyed your day sounds WONDERFUL to me!! - 12/25/2008   9:48:02 PM
  • 126
    Thank you Coach Dean for yet another wonderful, wonderful post. - 12/25/2008   9:28:43 PM
    That is such a great attitude!! Oftentimes we forget our own best company should be ourselves. You've taken that to heart and that is wonderful!! I hope it was a wonderful holiday for you! - 12/25/2008   9:14:37 PM

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