If you usually celebrate Christmas with family, but find yourself alone for the holiday, you might be wondering what to do with your time. I visit my family during the summer because I choose not to travel North in the winter. The trade-off is that I spend Christmas alone. The upside is that it can be peaceful and freeing. It can be a tough adjustment, but it turns out you can actually have a merry and meaningful holiday on your own!
My tradition has evolved from extreme family togetherness, to small and intimate gatherings, to each sibling hosting their own holiday with their grown children. Back in the day, all five of my siblings, along with their children, would descend upon Mom and Dad’s home for Christmas. Most would stay the weekend while Mom cooked, Dad shouted at the television (mostly at Bart Starr and Lynn Dickey), and the kids ran wild. Of course, each night was capped off with a play-for-keeps poker game.
As things do, it all changed. I moved a thousand miles away and declared I would visit Wisconsin in the summer months and not during snowstorms with icy roads and cancelled flights. My Christmas tradition has changed drastically. It has gone from confining 10 to 15 adults and children to a 900 square foot house for three days with copious amounts of sugar and alcohol, to me spending time with me. I find myself amusing and super chill, so it’s okay. If you’re doing Christmas solo, here are 10 things that might make your holiday special.
1 – Make yourself a special meal. I’ve been eating junk lately, so I prepared my favorite healthy breakfast on Christmas Eve morning. Slow cooked steel-cut oats with fresh blackberries, bananas, and walnuts sprinkled with cinnamon. Your special meal might be bacon and eggs, a black and bleu burger for lunch, or lobster for dinner. All that matters is that it makes you happy!
2 – Get outside. The short days and chilly weather are not my jam, and winter transforms me into a hermit. As soon as I get home from work, the PJs are on and I’m in for the evening. Christmas morning is the perfect time to get outside for a hike, stretch your legs, and breathe fresh air. The parks and trails are less congested, allowing you to really connect with nature. Listen to the squirrels rustling among the trees, streams trickling, and winter birds chirping. I brought my dog, Grace, so she could enjoy the sights and smells, too!
3 – Lend a hand. You probably know someone who is in high gear preparing for their family get-together. Offer to run an errand for a friend or neighbor and lighten their load. Something as simple as picking up last-minute grocery items can make someone’s day less stressful.
4 – FaceTime with your family. Or ask them to video special moments. Just because you’re not with your family, doesn’t mean you can’t see your family. Dial up some togetherness–watch the kiddos open a gift, have the adults pass the phone around and say Merry Christmas to everyone!
5 – Visit with a friend, or not. Your friends will invite you to join their family celebration. This is a personal decision, and I suggest you do what you’re comfortable with. I’ll admit, no matter how sincere and well-meaning the gesture, sometimes being with someone else’s family makes me more lonesome for my own family. Sometimes I accept the invite and have a blast; other times I choose to do my own thing. I give myself permission to make the decision that feels right for me each year.
6 – See a local show/sight/event. Having a long weekend usually means I can schedule an activity I would not normally have time for. This Christmas weekend I’m going to see the Chinese Lantern Festival. You might want to see a movie, a live show, or a concert. Treat yourself!
7 – Volunteer. Many organizations need help over Christmas because the usual volunteers are out of town for the holiday. Be sure to check into this a few months in advance as most groups require an application and possibly orientation and training. What says Christmas more than helping those in need?
8 – Go to Church. If you’re spiritual, attend a church service. If you attend regularly, reach out and welcome someone who is alone. If you haven’t been in a while, don’t worry. Any time is a good time to reconnect with your faith. Feed your spiritual soul.
9 – Meditate. Whether you’re a yogi or someone simply trying to touch his or her toes, spend 15 minutes before turning in for the night gently stretching your body and resting your mind. I’ve created a Pandora station with peaceful music and I reflect on what I am thankful for. I have not yet mastered the art of quieting my thoughts, so focused reflection it is.
10 – Take a trip. If you’re like me and not going home because their weather is frightful, how about Christmas on a warm, sunny beach? If you’re comfortable traveling alone, it could be delightful!
Merry Christmas, Y’all!