Home Alone for the Holidays

Written by Claire Colvin

aloneholidays2Christmas, they tell us, is ‘the most wonderful time of the year’.  What they don’t tell us is what we’re supposed to do when it isn’t. As the cards and carols like to remind us, Christmas is a time for families and togetherness, peace and well being for all. If only the problems in life paid more attention to the songs on the radio.

If you find yourself facing Christmas alone, December can be the longest month of all.  If someone is missing from the celebrations this year, if a family member has been sick, or money worries are keeping you up at night it’s easy to want to echo the Grinch’s sentiment — “I must find a way to keep Christmas from coming!” There are some years when Christmas is more than we can do.  But more often, going into hibernation for a month isn’t a realistic plan.  Christmas is coming, with or without our permission.  So how do you face the season when it doesn’t look the way it used to?

If your circumstances have changes, remember that your plans and even your traditions can change too. This can be hard to explain to other family members, but stick to your guns.  If there is an event, even a family dinner that you’re already dreading politely decline.  The best part of being an adult is being self-determinant.  There are few things that are mandatory — like paying taxes and making sure your kids eat — but there are fewer than you might think.  This is supposed to be your season too, take back some control if you need to.

Tears in December: How I survived Christmas when someone was missing

Rearranging Christmas can take many forms.  Find the one that’s right for you.  It could mean having a quiet Christmas at your house this year.  It might mean buying a new set of ornaments for the tree if you’re not up to opening up the memory-packed boxes from last year.  It could mean going to a restaurant for Christmas dinner, skipping the whole thing and heading somewhere warm.  It really is up to you.

If Christmas is looking unfamiliar this year, if the house is unnaturally quiet there are things you can do to enjoy the season, even if you find yourself alone.  Try one of these ideas:

  1. Decorate the house. Even if you’re the only one who’s going to see it, take the time to decorate your home. You don’t have to put everything up, or drag all the boxes out of the basement.  It doesn’t have to look just last like year.  Put up a Christmas tree or hang some lights.  Bring some Christmas into your line of sight, even if it’s just something small.  One of the hardest things about spending Christmas alone is the feeling that everyone else is having a great time and you’ve been excluded. Make sure you’re not excluding yourself.
  2. Plan something special. There’s nothing worse than hearing everyone else’s excitement over the upcoming holidays and having nothing to look forward to yourself.  Plan a treat for yourself, something really special.  It doesn’t have to be Christmas-y at all, just make sure you’ve got something to look forward to.  Not only will it add to your holiday, but it’ll give you a great answer to that dreaded question “so what are you doing for Christmas?”
  3. Be around other people. Sitting around the house by yourself on Christmas Day is incredibly hard. Find people to be with. If you have friends that are alone this Christmas, host a dinner at your house. If you’d like to help out somewhere there are always soup kitchens and charities that need people on Christmas Day. Whatever you decide to do make sure you have someone to say “Merry Christmas” to.
  4. Give yourself some quiet time. Sometimes the reason we’re alone at Christmas is a sad one. If this is you this season, give yourself the time and the permission to feel sad. Scale back on your activities.  If there are some traditions you cannot face this year, remember that you can politely excuse yourself.  Christmas has a way of turning the world into fantasy where everyone is supposed to be happy and everything is wonderful. Resist the urge to fake a smile all through the month of December.

It can be tempting to skip the season altogether, to say “there will be no Christmas in this house this year”. I  urge you not to do that. Christmas gets all glammed up, but at the heart of it all, it celebrates a very quiet moment. You can pass up on the extras of Christmas, but don’t miss the promise of the season.

Read more: It doesn’t look like Christmas

Christmas began with a little baby in a stable.  It started with two parents who were tired from a long journey and caught off guard that the baby would choose this particular moment to be born.  It wasn’t glamorous, and it wasn’t shiny but it did mark the moment that hope came to the world.  (If you’re rusty on the details, you can read the Christmas story from the book of Luke.)

Whatever your circumstances this December, remember that what we’re celebrating here is hope. If you’re not able to wrap your arms around the noise of the season, then just wrap your fingers around that simple truth.  Christmas is Christmas because Jesus came down.  He came so that whatever we’ve done and whatever has been done to us can be redeemed.  He came to pick up the pieces — or as it says in the Bible, he came “to make all things new” (Revelation 21:5).  In Psalm 34 it says that he “is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” If that’s you this season, we’d love to help you get to know him. You can read more about knowing Jesus.

You don’t have to face Christmas alone. We’re here for you.
Connect with a mentor today.  It’s free and confidential.

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210 Responses to “Home Alone for the Holidays”

  • Kate says:

    Laurie thanks for posting here. It is great to support one another.

  • Laurie says:

    Holger:
    I am so happy to hear that your physical and financial problems are getting better. Three years ago was a very lonely Christmas for me, too, and I remember your story. I don’t have any advice, but will keep you in my thoughts, hoping you will have an even better year.

  • Laurie says:

    Thank you Chris and Shana for your responses to my
    comment about being alone.I think it is more important
    to hope that all of you negotiated Christmas successfully.

  • Chris says:

    C….i applaud the grace of jesus within you. you have learned we dont have to have people to have peace in life!! blessings!

  • ~C~ says:

    I can relate to a lot of what people say about being alone on Christmas, but it does get better, really. This is my 2nd Christmas since my youngest daughter moved out, and my family has been a disappointment to me my entire life. I still miss my daughter and still cry that I don’t see her anymore, but she always either answers her phone or calls me right back. She is happy in her life and that’s all I’ve ever wanted for her. It’s about her, not me, so knowing she is happy gets me thru the loneliness. You won’t necessarily ever love being alone, but eventually you adjust. And our children’s happiness is all that matters. As far as not having a family to be with on Christmas, I’ve learned a long time ago that we don’t choose our family members, my mother and father divorced and remarried when my brother & I were very young and it became apparent that we were nothing but a burden to them and their 2nd families. It has been years since either parent has called me and my father doesn’t even know my daughter’s names. My mother lives 20 miles away but it might as well be 20 million because she has no interest in my life either. I was always the one to reconcile with my parents but it never lasted because it didn’t mean anything to them. There comes a point that you need to move on from the hurt, and let it be what it is. I have tried to be a part of my parents life, but if they do not want me there, that is the crappy part of life, and I don’t need them making me unhappy anymore. I didn’t look at it as giving up on them, but a triumph, to not be treated like garbage and it being their loss, especially during the holidays, not mine. I love my children so I will never understand what it’s like to be a parent who doesn’t love theirs.

  • Shana says:

    Laurie, I am so sorry for your loss. I hope you were able to get through Christmas. I will say a prayer for you.

  • Viera says:

    Chris..Blessed Christmas to you and your family.

  • Chris says:

    Laurie….may the words of our lord and savior jesus christ be your confort as you walk with him in truth and righteouesness!!!…

    Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.

    33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

  • Laurie says:

    I’m in Australia and believe me being alone here is just as
    lonely at Christmas time as in your part of the world.
    Some years ago I wrote a song called “Christmas For One”
    and now fate has decreed that I shall “live the lyrics”.
    My beautiful partner passed away this year in July. Her family
    and mine are widespread and nowhere near to where I now live.
    After 29 years of shared Christmas times with my partner -this
    year I will be alone.I hope you all find some happiness in the
    coming days…..

  • Chris says:

    donn…its so good to know that in christ, we can be who we are without fear of rejection or judgment. being transparent is what being a victorious Christian is all about knowing that there is no shame in being human and sometimes weak even as the great apostle paul was as well. 2 cor 12.9 to 10. in the freedom to express ourselves, ask for prayer and support, we are humbling ourselves which brings the grace of christ to us since God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. james 4.7 to 8. blessings!!

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