“Why do people have to be this lonely? What’s the point of it all? Why? Was the earth put here just to nourish human loneliness?”
― Haruki Murakami
Ah, the holidays. The good and the bad. The commercialism sucks. The time with family is good. Being stuck alone is awful. The time off is good. Dealing with horrible in-laws is bad. Watching people open a present you got them is fun. Being away from your military significant other is no fun.
September 23, 1997 my father died of a massive heart attack at work at the age of fifty-five with the holidays following closely after his death. I moved out of the house and to another part of the state twelve years earlier, so the only time I had real family time was when I went home for the holidays. Every year I visited for Thanksgiving and Christmas, but now it wasn’t the same.
He was the glue that held the family together. He was the one who would put the train track around the tree and fill the cars with M&M’s. He was the one who was always in a good mood no matter what happened, and he was the one who made our house feel like a home.
So, I know what it feels like to have a disdain for the holidays. Still, the holidays don’t have to be all bad and you don’t have to spend your time ruminating about all the horrible things that happened around Christmas or that one year that ruined everything forever.
Time marches on and the only day you have is today so even if you treat Christmas and the holidays like every other day try to make the best of it. Hopefully you aren’t in retail and have some time off to do things you enjoy. If you are in retail, we all send you our love and support and our empathy!
What if you spend the holidays doing things like:
- Baking lots of cookies and giving them away to the homeless;
- Writing that novel, you’ve been wanting to write;
- Sit by the fire, read a book and drink hot chocolate (unless you’re in Southern California like me and it’s hardly ever cold enough!
- Figure out what you want to do with your career and make a plan to achieve it;
- Reach out to someone you’ve been meaning to call;
- Take an all-inclusive trip to Mexico and relax on the beach listening to the crash of the waves (even if you have to do it alone);
- Organize your closets since you’ve been putting it off forever;
- Go visit distant relatives;
- Sit in Starbucks with a caramel brule latte and listen to conversations;
- Plan your next vacation;
- Volunteer at a skilled nursing facility or old-folks home;
- Create real goals for next year that are realistic and plan on how you’ll take action on them;
- Prepare and send care packages to the troops;
- Find out if you have neighbors who live alone and bring them a home-made basket
- Decide that you’re going to spend the rest of the year without negative thoughts and actually do it;
- See if you can stay off social media for 24 hours while you’re with your partner or family or friends;
- Check out that local restaurant you’ve been meaning to try out.
- Attempt to make a gingerbread house (yeah, I tried this once-epic fail);
- Go ice skating and try not to run over the little kids;
- Learn how to bake custom cakes;
- Start scrapbooking and create family memories;
- Create a project you and your kids can do together even if they grumble through it;
- Hang out at Disneyland or Downtown Disney (who can be miserable at the happiest place on earth?);
- Visit your local library and peruse all the old volumes of literature
- If you live along the West Coast hop on the Amtrak and take a ride along Highway 1;
- Walk along the beach and pick up trash;
- Get a bunch of good movies, some snacks and crawl in bed and stay there all day;
- Learn how to make stained glass ornaments;
- Pack a picnic lunch, get in your car and drive until you don’t want to drive anymore.
- Fondue- Need I say more?
There’s no point to moping around or feeling sorry for yourself during the holidays. You may be alone, or you may just feel alone, but other people feel the same way you do, and connections don’t happen if you sit home and fret about what you don’t have. If you can’t connect with others, connect with yourself.
Try something. Anything. Get out there. Make a difference. I know it’s hard if your naturally introverted and you’re uncomfortable around people but at some point, you must put yourself out there and force yourself to try something new or you never grow.