Unfortunately, this is not the reality for many people… more people than you might think. Especially since the number of traditional households in this country are no longer in the majority, due to many factors.
For many who are already struggling, the holidays become a time that turns "barely coping on a daily basis,” into a much greater challenge.
Sometimes these holidays bring back family-of-origin memories of grief, heartbreak and loss or memories of much better times from the past. If your Significant Other is married with kids, the holidays can be especially lonely.
Part of this is because culturally, we are always dealing with the idealized version of what we think the holidays should be: everyone loves each other, families always get along, there is plenty of money for gifts, there are no alcoholics at the family dinner, no one gets into political arguments, there is no divorce, lovers never break up and no one is ever alone.
Write Your Own Script
You have to realize that the myth of the perfect holiday is just that, a myth. A lot of it is from 70-year-old vintage Bing Crosby movies, memories passed down from grandparents, etc., when the world was a different place.
Giving Never Goes Out of Style
And also, don’t assume that everyone else has a much better time of it than you.
Put on a Happy Face… Easier Said than Done
Yes, of course, this time of year is genuinely wonderful for a lot of people, but in my work, I talk to many people whose expectations of themselves run counter to what they can do. And at the end of it, they are exhausted, emotionally depleted and somehow, the whole thing never lives up to what they envisioned. And having that "put on a happy face" requirement, can be exhausting.
Sometimes you WILL find yourself alone on a holiday, but planning ahead can often help with this.
- MAKE A LIST AND CHECK IT TWICE: Check with friends and relatives to see who is doing what and do it early on. If they are having dinners, get-togethers, etc., get that invitation and plan to bring a dish or a special drink.
- A DAY AT THE MOVIES: Go see an amazing Disney holiday movie or stream one at home! (avoid Old Yeller and Bambi, LOL)
- REACH OUT: If you know of any singles who are at loose ends for the holidays, get a group together and make a reservation at a good restaurant and leave the cooking to someone else. Contact loved one’s long distance for a video chat.
- BE GENTLE ON YOURSELF: Have patience with your emotions and don’t be hard on yourself. Don’t automatically think that something is wrong with you because you are not jumping for joy this month. Pamper yourself with a massage or buy yourself a little something special.
- GIVE TO OTHERS: Remember, it’s NOT about material things. It’s about giving to others, staying focused on what someone else might need and trying to give that to them, be it attention, help at home, or just a conversation over coffee. It doesn’t have to cost a lot or anything at all. Time is just as valuable!
- CHILL AND CATCH UP: Sometimes this time of year will offer us a day or two to do catch up at home and work on those special projects that have been waiting all year. If you feel like it, those days around the holiday or right after can be great for doing this stuff, and gives you a sense of accomplishment at the same time. If you live alone, trim a little tree and invite a friend over for dinner during Christmas week.
- MAKE A GRATITUDE LIST: No matter what is going on in our lives, there are always things we should be grateful for, seriously. I keep a great saying on my refrigerator: "The things you take for granted, someone else is praying for. Be thankful."
- VOLUNTEERING: Remember that volunteering over this time of year is not a cliché. I personally discovered that it is a very rewarding experience, even if you just give a few hours over this season. When I was volunteering, I met wonderful people from 18 to 80, all of whom had a common interest with me.
You can make this time as relaxing and pleasant as possible while celebrating YOUR way.
Happy Holidays and don’t forget to call for your end of the year update!