For the first time ever, I’ll be on my own for Christmas. I’m just dreading it. How does a person get through Christmas on their own without going crazy?
Well, there are lots of ways to “do” Christmas on one’s own.
Here is a list of possibilities that have been used by people who have spent Christmas on their own, or are planning to this year. As this is the first time for you, start by acknowledging that it will be different from every other Christmas.
And different doesn’t have to mean bad. It can just mean different. Here is the list:
• I record all of the Christmas movies on TV that I like, and spend the whole day in my PJs watching them, drinking eggnog and eating popcorn.
• I like to cook, so I plan a really nice meal for myself and take the time I don’t usually spend preparing something really special. I look for ideas starting in November, checking through magazines and asking people what they like. I so look forward to actually eating the meal I’ve been planning.
• I can’t be with my family so we set a time so that I can call them on Christmas day. That way we’re all ready for the call, and they open the presents I’ve sent at that time. We’re all excited at the same time.
• I buy myself a present and wrap it really nice and just really treat myself the whole day doing things I don’t usually do, but like to do. It is a “no chore” day, for me.
• I stay in bed, cover my head with my covers and sleep the day away.
• I have a regular volunteer thing that I do on Christmas day.
• There is only one day a year that I go to church: Christmas day. It puts me in a softer mood for the day. After church, I go for a long walk and just take in nature. Sometimes I make something special for food, but mostly I am spending the day just feeling peaceful.
• Mexico calls. I plan my vacation to be away at a resort where someone else is looking after all of the Christmas stuff, and there are lots of other single people around.
• There are a few other people I know who are on their own at Christmas so I invite them over. We have a potluck dinner and play games.
• In the past I would feel kind of ashamed that I was on my own, and not tell anyone. That was really depressing. Not being shy about the fact that I will be on my own Christmas day now, often means that I get invited to a lot of places. Some years I go to just one person’s place. Other years I drop in on a number of places. I’ve got a Santa hat that I wear with a big smile, and have a great day.
• What is the big deal about one day? There are 365 of them in a year, and every one of those that I don’t have to go to work is a good one. Bonus if it is in the middle of the week.
• Whenever I start getting into the feeling sad that I don’t have family to spend time with at Christmas, I remember what it was really like when I did have family at Christmas: too much drinking, people fighting, tears •• being on my own is better any day.
• I keep really busy in the couple of weeks leading up to Christmas with every Christmas activity I can fit in. Come Christmas day, I am full up with Christmas and don’t bother with anything else.
• I plan the day out really carefully so that I love every minute, including which music I’ll listen to. I plan a crockpot meal so that the nice smell of food fills the place, I save some really good books to read and plan when I’ll take my walk. I treat myself really well.
• I work. Makes me feel good to know that others, who have family here, can have the day off.
So, there are lots of ways to move through a Christmas day on your own. What is fairly consistent for people who enjoy the day regardless, is that they make some kind of a plan.
Many people have taken a few years to find what works for them. Others have developed different traditions.
On the way to finding something that worked for them, people found that some years were better than others. It was part of the process of finding what worked best.
This is no different than Christmas with others — some years are better than others.
People who enjoy Christmas on their own don’t buy into the idea that the day has to be awful.
So it may be interesting to make some kind of a plan, and see how it goes.
There may be parts of the day that you enjoy. There may be other parts where being on your own feels overwhelmingly sad.
However it is, the day will end. You will have lived through it and be more knowledgeable about what works for you.
If you wish to ask a question of the counsellors, for a response in future columns, e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Consult a Counsellor is provided by registered clinical counsellors Nancy Bock, Diane Davies Leslie Wells, Andrew Lochhead and Sara-Lynn Kang at pacific therapy & consulting inc. It appears every second Thursday in the Record.