As the world settles down to celebrate Christmas Day, just what will you be doing?
Like so many people around the world, will you be spending it with your families and loved ones? Or will you be on your own?
Firstly, let’s acknowledge just how big a thing Christmas has become around the world with even people from other faiths treating this as a day for getting together with family & friends and having a good time.
Like it or not, Christmas Day despite its religious connotations, has become a day for partying, eating, drinking and having a jolly good time (in theory at least) with other people.
At the same time, there will also be many people on their own this Christmas. Some of these people may wonder what all the fuss is about around whilst others may feel they are missing out.
Christmas is clearly a wonderful time for families. But it is also a time when the suicide rate shoots up as it seems to really impact people who are on their own and feel that nobody seems to care about them.
Personally, I feel that there is so much media hype about being with loved ones and friends that you are made to feel there is something “wrong” if you are not spending Christmas Day with other people.
If you are going to be on your own this Christmas, I challenge you to reflect on this question:-
Is it really that bad to be on your own on Christmas Day?
Here are some suggestions for making the most of being on your own this Christmas:-
1. Get Clear Why You Are on Your Own
A lot of time on Christmas Day people are on their own for practical reasons such as being too far away to travel to visit their family or they have required to work on that day. There are also circumstances such as a relationship break-up or a bereavement that could mean a solitary Christmas.
So the first thing to be aware of is just why are you alone?
2. Be Thankful to be Away from Family
Despite all the hype, not everyone who is with their families and loved ones is actually having a fabulous time!
Whether it is Christmas or not, not all families are all happy and jolly families. Every family has disagreements and fallouts and being in close proximity for a few days around Christmas time is guaranteed to bring forth any discord and simmering issues.
You may want to consider it a good thing that you are on your own this Christmas!
So if you are alone, be thankful, you have complete control over the remote control and can eat all of the chocolate yourself in peace:-)
3. Enjoy Being on Your Own
I remember when I broke up after a long term relationship and I chose to be on my own for Christmas Day. Though it was a strange feeling, looking back it was also quite therapeutic.
I actually enjoyed being on my own and the peace and quiet. You can do the same.
Plan your meals and some entertainment such as TV – you can even cook for yourself and celebrate with some champagne if that is your thing. Create an occasion just for yourself.
At the same time, do telephone some friends and family members. Perhaps even invite a neighbour to pop in.
4. Find Other People on Their Own and Arrange Your Own Xmas Day Festivities
If you are likely to stay at home and wallow in self-pity since you are alone, then don’t! Instead take charge and arrange your own Christmas day festivities.
In a large city like London, there are many other single people spending Christmas on their own, but wherever you are, there will be people on their own just looking for an opportunity to connect with others.
Arrange your own Christmas dinner or throw a spontaneous party. You can of course use social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter to conjure up your own impromptu get together. Or check out some MeetUp groups in your area.
Of course be selective about who you invite and be very clear and specific about what your guests should bring or not bring. The party doesn’t have to be at your home – it could be some hotel.
And don’t offer to cook for everyone! If you are hosting, then ask everyone to bring a dish and a drink. Check what everyone’s bringing and co-ordinate otherwise you may end up with tonnes of brussels sprouts!
5. Call Some Friends and Get Invited to Their Celebration
If you are going to be on your own, then let others know that this is the case. Ask friends what they are doing – and let them subtly know you are going to be on your own.
People are quite generous with sharing their families and Christmas festivities – give them a chance to do so.
Of course do take along a gift or a food dish – and let them know in advance of your dietary restrictions if any.
I remember one time when I was invited to a Christmas dinner, and my friends had to quickly rustle up some roast potatoes and salad for me. I had incorrectly assumed they knew I was vegetarian. So make no assumptions and don’t be shy about letting them know your dietary needs.
6. Do Something to Help Others this Christmas
One of the best things you can do if you are alone around Christmas time is to help others.
For example you can help out at a soup kitchen, visit an old people’s home or be available for callers at a crisis support center. Through your efforts, you will positively impact quite a few lives.
A few years ago I had an amazing day delivering Christmas food hampers and gifts to needy families in London.
It was a truly humbling experience and I shall always remember the awe, wonder and sheer joy on the faces of little children whose Christmas had just been changed dramatically.
Since then I have been doing this every year with the Basket Brigade in London.
The best way to cheer yourself up is to cheer up others! So find out if there is Basket Brigade happening near you and join in – and help make it a fabulous Xmas for yourself and many other people:-).
“One small act of generosity on the part of one caring person can transform the lives of hundreds. It takes only one light to dispel the darkness, and even just one basket, or a few could bring hope.” – Tony Robbins
The International Basket Brigade is built on a simple notion: one small act of generosity on the part of one caring person can transform the lives of hundreds.
Talk about the impact of one stranger’s kindness!
My life was radically transformed when I first delivered the Xmas baskets in 2005.
I felt that I was a better human being than I had been the day before.
The point is that it takes so little to make a difference to others.
People may be going through “difficult” times and yet they have so much dignity, love and humanity in them. And to see the innocence, hope and beauty on the faces of the children affected just breaks your heart.
‘Everyone can be great, because anybody can serve.
You don’t have to have a college degree to serve.
You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve.
You only need a heart full of grace – a soul generated by love’ – Martin Luther King Jnr
Happy Christmas Everyone!
No matter what happens this Christmas, know that only you can give yourself what you want in terms of happiness and joy.
A person can feel really lonely even if they have lots of people around them. Or they can feel completely fulfilled and content even if they are on your own.
So if you happen to be spending this Christmas on your own, look for all the good that will come out of this.
Look for the positive lessons from this experience, see it as part of your personal growth and be thankful for having had this opportunity for some “me-time”.
Happy Christmas everyone!
Top image courtesy of elward-photography
Wonderful post Arvind!
I had also read somewhere that Christmas and New Year’s are the times when the maximum number of suicides take place, and your post helps to understand the reason behind it.
I guess people undergo a great deal, though all of us have our own share of down times, some people just can’t take it. And this being the holiday season, such thoughts are even greater with those who are at home and not working.
I loved these lines of yours – A person can feel really lonely even if they have lots of people around them. Or they can feel completely fulfilled and content even if they are on your own.- So true indeed!
After all it is all in the mind. If and when you want to be happy, you can- but only if you want it- otherwise nothing in the world can really make you happy.
Thanks so much for sharing a wonderful reminder. Happy Christmas to you as well 🙂
Harleena, welcome again to my blog:-)
Indeed – a person can feel really lonely even if they have lots of people around them. Or they can feel completely fulfilled and content even if they are on their own.
I have been single for a while now and tend to do a lot of things on my own – and yet I have never felt alone or lonely.
As you say, it’s all in the mind.
happy Christmas to you too.
Hooray, Arvind! It takes courage to write a post like this one. Thank you for shining a light on how Christmas, like every other day of the year, is what we make of it. We choose our thoughts and attitudes about our conditions, always and period.
I love this line especially: “No matter what happens this Christmas, know that only you can give yourself what you want in terms of happiness and joy.”
Merry Christmas, Arvind. Here’s to choosing our own joy!
Exactly Beth – we can choose to make whatever we want of each day of the year and not just on Xmas day.
So many of our woes come from what the world teaches us as the “right” thing to be doing!
Just because the media portrays Xmas as a time for large happy gatherings of family and friends, it doesn’t mean that we all need to buy into that concept.
Beth, have a joyous Xmas too:-)
Hi Arvind! Excellent post, and it resonated with me because this Christmas will be the first Christmas ever my husband and I will not be in the US to spend it with our family. (We were there over Thanksgiving, though).
We could easily spend it alone here in Moldova, but I decided to cook a big dinner and invite other “lonely” expats to join us. I enjoy cooking and I know it will be fun.
I think it is important to be pro-active, which is exactly what you are saying in your post. But true loneliness is very debilitating and I feel for those who truly are.
Karen, good to see you here again on my blog:-)
Your expat dinner in Moldova sounds divine! Great that you have been proactive – have an amazing time.
Everyone should also remember all those people who are genuinely suffering loneliness.
This is a wonderfully needed perspective, Arvind! Not many are so thoughtful to have thought out this side of the Christmas experience. But you’re absolutely right that there are people who would have a much better Christmas very far away from toxic families. I have some dear readers whose parents are downright mean and vindictive. To take joy in the fact that they don’t have to be with such family members is a much better attitude than feeling sorry for having to spend the holidays in emotional pain.
Great post, Arvind. You have done a lot of people a great service with this post!
Ken, welcome again to my blog.
As you say, it is often good to be away from toxic families. Coming from a loving family, it took me a long time to realise that’s not all sugar and roses in other families.
Ultimately it comes down to having the self-awareness and courage to do what’s right for you.
Happy Christmas, Ken!
Thoughtful post Avrind, yes, even at the best of times it can be challenging to be by yourself-it is easy to wallow in self pity but as you say, being alone doesn’t have to be lonely..and is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy peace and solitude. Happy Christmas!
I do believe the media causes a lot of anguish and pain with their bombardment of visions of happy families sitting around the Xmas dinner table in peace and harmony.
Being alone at Christmas time can actually be a real gift to yourself!
Happy Christmas to you and your daughters:-)
A wonderful post about this special time of the year, and yet for others it is looking to be less than special. We must always avoid taking what we have for granted, whilst maximising the time we have with our loved ones, or quiet time for ourselves, to full effect.
The time is there for us to make use of, one way or the other.
Thank you for a brilliant post Arvind 🙂
Stuart, as you say its up to us how spend this special time – either with loved ones or quietly on ourselves.
Happy holidays, whatever you choose to do:-)
Marvelous post. I sometimes wish I could spend the day alone!
I hope you enjoy this wonderful season.
Best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous new year.
Angela, it can be so blissful to spend some time alone!
And I am looking forward to doing just that over the next week:-)
Wishing you all the best for 2012