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Alone Doesn’t Have to Mean Lonely During the Holidays

2012 December 9

Choose your thoughts carefully. You are the masterpiece of your life. ~Rhonda Byrne

alone at christmasThere’s so much hype for the wonderful time of togetherness during the holidays that, for some, it only serves to accentuate the feeling of being alone and disconnected. The holidays can be particularly hard on those who are separated from loved ones, those newly divorced, or those who have suffered the death of a loved one. For better or worse, there are also those who do have family, but would rather do pretty much anything other than see them; for them too, it can be a lonely season. The best part of being an adult is we have the ability to make choices. This is supposed to be the season for one-and-all, and you can take back some control - if you choose to.

We are the makers of our own reality and feelings.

If you’re alone this Holiday Season, you can choose to change your expectations; transform your holiday season from a time of loneliness, to an opportunity to create new traditions and nurture yourself. Most importantly, don’t let the image of what a holiday “should” be dictate your feelings. Focus on what this season is really about: love and gratitude – not presents and parties. Regardless of your circumstances, you can choose to open your heart and fill yourself with the same feelings of love, friendship, and compassion that are at the core of the holiday season.

A few ideas to inspire you …

Treat yourself to some holiday sparkle.

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 go all out – the point is to bring some of the color and sparkle of Christmas into your line of sight, even if it’s just something small.

Take the first step and reach out to others.

Enjoying a bit of solitude is one thing, but there’s no reason to sit at home on Christmas feeling sad because you think you have no other choice. If you have friends (or even co-workers) that are alone this Christmas, consider hosting a pot-luck dinner at your house, or suggesting a get-together at a local restaurant. If you have family, but for some reason are not able to be with them this holiday, don’t be bashful about telling your friends you are homesick! People are normally very open with invitations this time of year. Not only is it in the spirit of Christmas but, to be honest, many people loving the idea of having a friend as a “buffer” at family gatherings!

Write your story.

The more you can write about your thoughts and feelings, the quicker you can work through them, gain understanding about the twists and turns your life has taken, and create a vision of what you want for the future. This is the perfect time to start keeping a journal!

The most important story you will ever tell about yourself, is the story you tell to yourself. 

~Jim Loeh, The Power of Story

Celebrate the life of a deceased loved one.

Sometimes we choose to be alone at Christmas because of the passing of a loved one. And of course, there are times in life when we need to give ourselves permission to work through sadness and sorrow. But many people find comfort in being proactive, if that sounds like you, then you may want to consider organizing a holiday memorial; a celebration of the life of your deceased loved one. There are many online sites available (most are free or low cost) where you can set up a memorial page for your loved one and invite friends and family to leave their comments and even submit photographs. Last Memories is just one example. Another idea is to host a combination celebration and online fundraiser in the name of your loved one. For example if they passed away as a result of cancer related illness, you might want to donate the proceeds of your fundraiser to cancer research in their name. Razoo is just one site offering this service.

Avoid second guessing yourself.

When you are newly divorced or separated, hauling out the ornaments and decorations may bring a flood of memories. It’s human nature under the circumstances to fall into periods of second guessing yourself; was the divorce or separation absolutely necessary, or could we have worked through it; should you have hung in there until after the holidays for the kid’s sake? Remembering the good times (or more likely, fantasizing that there actually were good times) makes you more likely to feel depressed when you are newly divorced. Don’t fall into the trap of wallowing in self-pity. It’s more important than ever to begin looking to the future and focus on rebuilding your life – instead of an end, consider this period as your transition to a new beginning.

When you have to share the kids – choose to set the example.

If you have children and they will be spending any part of the Christmas holiday with your ex, negotiate in goodwill to make a plan to call your children at a particular time that will not interfere with their holiday plans. Even if it hurts, and it probably will, the more you support your ex in being a good parent, the better chance your children have of growing up to be confident, well-adjusted people.

Give a helping hand.

There are countless ways to be of service during the holidays. Many nonprofits post newspaper ads looking for volunteers, and there are always soup kitchens and charities that need people on Christmas Day. Giving your time to someone who will really cherish it is the best gift of all. Isn’t that what Christmas is supposed to be about anyway? Whatever your circumstances this Holiday Season, remember that on the deepest level what we’re celebrating 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 that the season isn’t about presents, decorations or Christmas cards. It’s about love and peace – try sending some of that love your own way this holiday. You deserve it! If you enjoyed this article, you may be interested to know it’s an excerpt from my holiday season book, Christmas by Design: Tips, strategies and inspiration for the most enjoyable, stress-less holiday season ever!

RudyIf you like what you read here, I hope you will consider joining the IGG Community! It only takes a couple of minutes to sign up, and then each new article will be conveniently delivered to your email inbox … and of course you’ll also receive your free copy of your free welcome gift. To learn more – press here. Mahalo!

11 Responses
  1. December 18, 2012

    I think everyone who feels lonely should look at their surrounding and start to appreciate those people who were always there for them for the longest time and take the chance to give them time. Thanks for making me realize that. Good job!
    Emilia recently posted..New Years Eve Cruise in Sydney 2012 Harbour Fireworks Cruise!My Profile

  2. December 15, 2012

    Of course I like the one that says “Write your story”! I started writing a journal when I was 14, and within two years I considered it my “best friend”. Writing about my feelings has always helped me sort things out, better than talking to someone. I used to think it had to be handwritten, that I could not really write from the heart on a typewriter or computer keyboard. But now I find it FAR easier to write at the keyboard.

    Willena Flewelling recently posted..Believe in Yourself! – It’s Your ChoiceMy Profile

  3. December 13, 2012

    I am totally blessed to have family so close during the holidays and at all times. Both daughters and their families live about a block from us and I have brothers and sisters very close as well. Your article was excellent, offering wonderful ways to help any loneliness someone may be experiencing. Your book sounds awesome!
    Lynn Jones recently posted..Sharing Kindness at ChristmasMy Profile

  4. December 12, 2012

    I wish nobody felt lonely on Christmas Eve this year(( The tips are gorgeous. Alone does not necessarily mean lonely. Moreover, lonely people could remember that there are other lonely people in the world and send gifts to them. What if someone could create an online service (or something like that) so that lonely people could register there and find their sou mates…
    Anyway, thank you for raising this important issue. And Happy Holidays!

    • December 12, 2012

      Welcome Diane, and thank you for sharing your thoughts. I certainly agree with you about the value of reaching out to others. If you have time, you may like to check out a recent post here – it’s actually a short TED Talk titled The Power of Pen and Paper: Love Letters to Strangers. The concept is very much like what you describe. Thanks again for stopping by! :-)

  5. December 11, 2012

    Hi Marty,

    I had written a post about holiday stress and a young man from the other side of the world was so confused. His holidays were centered around religion and family. I had to explain that in the U.S. we are bombarded with that supposedly holiday cheer from media, songs, and especially stores.

    But we get those holiday blues and I’m happy you have addressed this issue. We can always bend the rules. Traditions from childhood stick to us and can bring us down if our life has changed in any way.

    I kept my traditions alive until I ran out of energy. Yes, the family was very upset, but I was too darn tired to be cooking, serving and entertaining for days on end. It was important for me to take care of me. Although I do miss that traditional holiday making, I turned my time to other things.

    Outreaching…..I volunteer to a senior citizen home to talk to people that are alone…really alone. Sometimes I bring my dog…that cheers them up and makes me feel good.

    Then there is always the Salvation Army that puts on the best party in town. From a dark dank room, my husband and I helped in decorating it. Setting the table with linen table cloths, putting silverware at the place settings instead of plastic. Creating real floral arrangements for centerpieces. It was magical. The local chefs in our area prepared the finest food for the homeless.

    Now, how can you be lonely when you lend a hand?


  6. December 10, 2012

    Excellent suggestions Marquita! It is so easy to get so focused on ourselves that we forget what Christmas is all about. For me, what helps best is serving others less fortunate than me. I am on the board of directors for our community Christmas Hamper Fund and it is such a blessing to be a part of making someone else’s Christmas special. :)

    Kevin Martineau recently posted..The Hobbit: An unexpected journey #GIVEAWAYMy Profile

  7. December 9, 2012

    Hi Marquita,
    I relate with many of your points about being alone at Christmas. I re-married earlier this year so I will be enjoying my first Christmas with my husband and one of my children. However, my other two children will be spending it with their father and I am okay with that although I will miss them a lot on the day. But it is so important to be happy with the situation for their sake, even if you feel otherwise inside.

    And, I believe that anyone finding themselves alone, can give their time and love to a shelter. As soon as we help others, we feel so much better about ourselves. There is something magical about serving others.

    clare recently posted..Melatonin and your Health: 11 Factors You Ought to KnowMy Profile

    • December 10, 2012

      Glad you liked the article Clare – and I certainly agree with you about the win/win opportunity of lending a helping hand during the holidays. In fact, I really believe organizing at least one family project to “give back” is a terrific way to illustrate to kids what the season is (supposed to be) about. Thanks for stopping by!

  8. December 10, 2012

    Thanks for sharing Melanie … I think many who find themselves alone this holiday season, regardless of the circumstance, might be tempted to feel they have it toughest of all, especially those of have lost a loved one. But you are so right when you say that we do the best we can – we have a choice about our attitudes and behavior, and hopefully this article will inspire at least a few people who are alone this holiday to accept the power they have to choose happiness.

  9. December 10, 2012

    Thanks for taking the time to contribute to the conversation Patricia. Obviously you feel, as I do, that lending a helping hand is not only a valuable activity during the holidays, but all year long. BTW – loved the thoughts you expressed in the piece on your own blog :-)

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