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Excerpt from op-ed about surviving and making the most of a lonely Christmas

Wednesday 12/7/22

How to survive and make the most of a lonely Christmas.

Christmas is a holiday that can produce some of the best feelings you’ll ever have or the worst, a case of jingle bells or jingle hells.

If you’re lonely at Christmas with nowhere to go, the minutes of the day become like slowly-slicing razor blades with the pain felt every second, but I’ve found that a few tips shared from a place of experience can go a long way when we believe our own experience is depressingly unique.

First off, it’s not. We don’t have to pretend that things are super. That just adds a layer of stress. Being alone at Christmas is terrible, but a lot of people are in the same sleigh, so to speak.

We may find ourselves alone for all kinds of reasons, but human nature being human nature, we’re apt to think it’s because we’re the problem.

Sometimes we are, with how we’ve behaved. But that can be a good thing, too, because it means we have control to improve how we conduct ourselves so that we may have different Christmases going forward.

But whether you’re alone at Christmas for the first time, or it’s six seasons of the Yule in a row, here’s what you’re going to want to do.

First off, don’t just sit there inside as a lump. Don’t stuff your face, don’t dump alcohol down your throat. Don’t drink anything at all, if you can. You’ll feel worse. Make some nice tea. Drink water. Hydrate.

There’s a reason why more people have heart attacks on Christmas than any day of the year. We’re not moving, we’re binging, we’re stressed, without an outlet. And we can be so sad.

Have a special day. What do I mean by that? Do really cool things you might not otherwise.

Wake up early, hop in the car or ride the train, get to a forest preserve, take a hike. See some animals. Pull the air into your lungs. Sing. Feel that you’re alive.

Come home and learn something. Watch a remarkable film. Start a project. Write something. Cook a meal that you’ve never tried to cook before.

You’re making a day for the future that you want and deserve to have so that when that future arrives, and the person or people you’re with ask you about a Christmas prior, you can say, “Well, a few years ago it was just me, and it was hard, and I did x, y, and z.”

Those people will appreciate that about you, as they should. They’ll even think, “Wow, I’ve never had a Christmas like that.”

Do something you used to love at Christmas. This isn’t about nostalgia. But that thing you love is still inside of you. Remind yourself of its presence. That same love can be used to help us move to better days.

Love is a lot of things, and one of those things is the gift of hope. Hope is a roadway, and we travel nowhere without it.

Do something for others. Your sister didn’t invite you over her house? You’ve never been close, but it hurts, right? Make something for her kid. Find a book to share with her.

If you live in a city, go for a walk. Take a person without a home into a Starbucks. Get them something warm to eat and drink. Ask them about themselves. Talk with them. Hear them.

Say that you’re having a rough day. The holidays can be hard. It’s not about you showing pity to someone. It’s about connection and being real, person to person.

And always remember this: one Christmas isn’t every Christmas. Be proud of yourself for everything you put in your day. Feel good about yourself, not down on yourself.

Make a plan to say what you need to say about being left behind by someone you think shouldn’t have left you behind. Firmly and politely.

Move on when you need to move on. There are always people we just don’t know yet.


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