I am a 42-year-old single woman and once again I will be alone for Christmas. My parents died many years ago and my only sister lives in another province. I have friends in the city but they are travelling, or in relationships, or have families and their own holiday plans.
This is always a difficult time for me. I would like to be able to find some pleasure in the season rather than just wishing it was over. Any suggestions?
You are not alone in feeling alone at Christmas. Loneliness is one of the scourges of our time and it hits the hardest on holidays - the times that people gather and celebrate friends, food and family.
In the past there were more opportunities to connect. People had large families and didn't travel or move far from their birthplace. That's not so today.
The ability to enjoy the season when alone depends on how well you can lift yourself out of the slump of isolation and celebrate the solitude. Don't spend too much time looking through the snow-frosted windows of the families you imagine and presume that all is delight.
Many of those family members are also wishing it was over: watching uncle Bob pour his seventh scotch and aunt Mary burst into tears about the soggy brussels sprouts.
Things are not always as they appear. There are, of course, fortunate families who love the holidays, but as in most situations it is wise to avoid comparisons.
Narrow in nature, they are either a 'one-up' or 'one-down' calibration that is often inaccurate and always fleeting.
If you must indulge, take the 'one-up' position. Shift your focus to fortunate. How we feel is directly connected to how we think.
Here are some suggestions for celebrating your season. See what fits for you.
Take a walk in the snow. Eat great food. Drink good wine. Find the church in town with the best choir and attend a service. Hang a wreath. Listen to Dylan Thomas read A Child's Christmas in Wales. Make a donation to a charity. Photograph trees. Write a letter to someone older than you are. Sing along to Handel's Messiah. Feed birds. Count dogs in holiday gear. Buy a book. Bake something. Look at clouds. Eat ice cream. Light a candle. Smile.
Margaret Anne Speak, M.A., C.C.P.A, works with couples, individuals and families from a Bowen Family Systems perspective at Family Services of the North Shore. Questions? Write onthecouch@ familyservices.bc.ca or call 604-988-5281.