Thursday, December 16, 2010
Christmas For One
You see, I spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day alone.
Okay, now just stop it! I can see you glazing over with that “poor Sue, we must do something” look. Trust me, your sadness on my behalf is misguided.
I live alone. I’ve lived alone almost all of my life. I like living alone. More importantly, I am not lonely. I have very little family, and what I have is 3,000 miles away. A few years ago I braved holiday travel to spend Christmas with them. NEVER AGAIN! Hey, I love you guys like it’s nobody’s business, but cancelled flights, bad weather and luggage missing for a week isn’t my idea of a good and relaxing holiday. Plus, I can seldom wrangle time away from work in December.
When I was in my early thirties, there was a small group of us who had Christmas dinner together. Then, as happens, over the years people married or moved away. For several years I accepted invitations to various Christmas dinners. But as gracious as my friends and acquaintances were, I often felt “tacked on” to their traditions, like a good deed they were doing for the holidays rather than truly wanted and included. And there were holidays I spent with the then current significant other.
At some point, I finally looked people in the eye and declared myself a family of one (okay, 3 if you include the cats). And I have my own holiday traditions, just like any other family.
I get together with friends the week or two before Christmas to share dinners and exchange gifts before they take off to visit their families. I decorate my apartment (though my schedule dictates how much). I make myself a lovely meal, usually rack of lamb, and open a nice bottle of wine. For dessert, it’s either ginger bread or pumpkin cheesecake. There’s often a fresh Christmas floral arrangement on my dining table and carols playing in the background. On Christmas morning I open the presents received from family and friends and watch a Christmas movie in my jammies with a carafe of ginger or peppermint tea. I call my family. Invitations to go to the movies with my Jewish friends are turned down. I spend the day in quiet, self-contained, bliss.
And I write. I’ve always had a deadline shortly after the first of the year, so part of Christmas is almost always spent pounding the keyboard for several hours, both before and after dinner.
This is my tradition and I look forward to it every year.
If you know singles without family, don’t naturally assume they are okay alone at Christmas, as I am. Many are not. There’s a reason the suicide rate increases at the holidays. Some folks might be lonely and would love an invitation to dinner, so open your hearts and your home and make them feel welcome. But if they decline, don’t feel bad. Maybe they just want to be with their family of one.