Holidays, and especially Christmas, are times when images of happy families grin out at us from every type of screen and publication. But if you’re on your own, this can be the toughest time of the year. The big thing to remember is you aren’t the first, and you won’t be the last. From the dawn of time there have always been those who, by accident, design, choice, or misfortune, find themselves alone at Christmas.
Here are three tips which worked for me at a difficult time…
Work out what it is you’re missing. Is it the presence of children, the presents, being plied with drink, the noise, the drama? Don’t forget, rows over kids, gifts and drinking often mean the noise and drama turns nasty. Thank your lucky stars you won’t have to listen to anyone else noisily engulfing sausage rolls, satsumas and sherry by the skipful, before calling up Huey on the big white telephone all night.
There’s nothing wrong with being alone at Christmas. You get custody of the remote control. If you want to eat donuts for breakfast, dinner, tea, and supper, there’s no one to stop you. Heck, you get to choose whether you want to celebrate at all, so if you don’t feel like putting on the cap and bells this year, leave them under the bed. Shut yourself in with your favourite foods and a few films. Let the world roll on without you for a day or two
Being lonely is a different thing altogether. That’s not good. If you crave the company of others, the worst thing you can do is sit at home and mope, so…
Get out, and see who’s about. Fresh air is free. Walking is, too. Add a dog, and you’ve got the perfect icebreaker if you feel like striking up a conversation with others on the same mission. No pooch? No problem! Offer to entertain a neighbour’s pet for an hour.
If you can’t face that, try feeding the birds. Dried fruit and breadcrumbs aren’t good for them, so if you can afford it, get a pack of proper wild bird food. Or go old style, and string up a few peanuts in their shells, or half a coconut. It’ll take a while before bird pluck up the courage to visit, so only put out a little to begin with, first thing in the morning. Once you’ve started feeding them, don’t stop. They’ll come to rely on you. They’ll appreciate a shallow pan of water for drinking and bathing, too
Our solitary, work-and-internet obsessed lifestyles mean many people never see their neighbours. Christmas is the perfect way to make that first contact, without it seeming creepy or weird. Knocking on the door to deliver a Christmas card only takes a minute, and who knows—you might set a trend, or make a friend.
If you can’t be happy yourself, maybe you could help someone else become less miserable. Volunteering at a shelter for the homeless, or with a befriending service (just google the term to find groups local to you) are two ways you can get involved. And church isn’t just for Christians—at this time of year, they should be making an extra effort to help the marginalised. Ask if you can help.
It’s a big day today for my friend and fellow author, Christina Hollis, as she’s launching her new novel for The Wild Rose Press, Heart Of A Hostage with a blog called Capturing The Castle over at Christina Hollis. It’s a great story—I was her Beta reader, so I know what I’m talking about! Why not visit her blog, find out more, and snap up your very own launch-day copy of Heart Of A Hostage here!