I am addicted to the bliss of the holiday season. The shopping, the parties, the family get togethers, the weather, the cheer – I love everything about Thanksgiving and Christmas! However, loving this time of year, as much as I do, sometimes leaves me prey to bouts of depression. Since she was my only real close family, the death of my beloved mother has caused the holiday season to never be the same. Single and childless with family far away, I spend most of my holidays alone now. And I have the double whammy of my birthday also falling during the Thanksgiving holiday, so everyone I know is usually away then too.
Like me, there are a number of reasons that people find themselves alone at the holidays. For example, I feel for many of the millennials I talked to this season, who conveyed that their student loan debt and the high NYC rents are keeping them from being able to afford to go home. I live in a hipster building where most of the 20-somethings don’t seem to have made it home this Thanksgiving. Older single people often have no immediate family members left to go to. I spied tons of older women shopping for themselves at Whole Foods this season. Thus, most of us, will spend a Christmas or two or three alone at some point in our lives.
Many spiritual people have told me that a holiday is “just another day.” But it’s not. We are programmed from birth to look to the holiday seasons as times of Joy. Most of our minds are filled with dreams of white Christmases and happy family get togethers. Many of us also have family traditions that we remember. Thus, being alone doing the holidays will, at first, bring up a sense of nostalgic sadness and a natural wish for holidays past.
Everyone also always says the same thing about giving to worthy causes and volunteering if you are alone at the holidays. While I advocate that, it is also important to be real about how YOU are feeling and really practice some self-love. Because no matter what anyone says spiritually, the holidays are always emotionally charged. I had my first holiday alone when I was in my twenties in England. It felt so unnatural and I was so distraught that I had to be totally stoned out of my mind. I didn’t even want to be awake! Happily, I know no longer suffer like that and often find being alone at the holidays a blissful rest from my hectic Life.
Here are some of my tips for getting through the holidays (or your birthday) blues-free for anyone else, who spends them mostly alone:
- Allow Yourself To Feel – Many people feel selfish and guilty if they are sad at the holidays. We do the “there are worse off people” comparison thing in our heads. But I had a great Life coach tell me to stop doing that. We have to allow ourselves to feel how we do about our own lives. Because that is the Life we are living. Even though this makes seven holiday seasons since my Mama’s passing, I still have moments of great sadness where I miss my Mom. This sadness washes over my whole being and is an intense emotional pain. I miss waking up to the smell of her already getting the stuffing and turkey going while we watch the Macy’s Day Parade. I miss the large dinner parties she did on Christmas Eve where all the family friends would come over. I miss the smell of breakfast on Christmas morning that included her biscuits and fried apples. I miss spoiling her with tons of presents. So sometimes, I just break down in tears. I let myself have those moments and I let them last till they are ready to pass then I dust myself off. Whatever is causing you sadness at the holidays – a break-up, a death, a job loss, economic strife or a combination of those things – feel your feelings. The important thing is not to fall into them and allow yourself to completely descend into a funk. Feel it, cry it out, then get moving.
- Celebrate – I know this seems obvious. But often when we are alone at the holidays, we do not fully celebrate them. I suggest putting up that tree – I just found this one at Bed Bath Beyond, hanging that garland and sipping that eggnog while you blare your holiday favorites on Spotify! Get dancing, celebrate your Life! Be all about you.
- Pamper Yourself – Get gifts for your friends and family. But remember to make this a time of gift giving for yourself. Get something unusual that you would not normally buy for yourself. Like this year, I am getting myself a year’s unlimited subscription to Masterclass, which will allow me to take classes with Jane Goodall on Conservation, Cooking with Wolfgang Puck, Gordon Ramsey and the chef on everyone’s best current chef list, Thomas Keller, and Shonda Rhimes on TV writing! Also if you are a beauty treatment like me, make the holiday season a time to truly pamper yourself from head to toe.
- Eat Well – Prepare beautiful solo meals and indulge a bit too. If you can, get the very best. Visit your favorite restaurants and take-out spots. I love Dean and Deluca soups and also their desserts. The chocolate caramel tart is crazy good! And I just had the new Hot Chickn sandwich at Shake Shack! It’s a delectable chicken breast battered with hot chilies and topped with coleslaw and pickles. So yummy that even writing about it is making me crave one now!
- Relax – The one thing about spending the holidays alone is you can create a zero-drama zone. Family gatherings almost always include family drama. My father would pick a fight with someone every single holiday, which often ruined the whole day for everyone. My relationship with my sister can best be described as “special.”
Not having to give in to that kind of toxic and uncomfortable environment is a relief. Meditate, listen to beautiful music, take long bubbly baths, drink teas, go for walks and just really take it easy. I just discovered the playlist below that is giving me Life right now! https://open.spotify.com/user/spotify/playlist/37i9dQZF1DX571ttkrxAeN
- Read – I find the holidays the perfect time to catch up on both my magazine reading and also to dive into a great novel. I like mysteries so this year’s read is “The Woman In Cabin 10”. Also, making time each day to read something uplifting will help you beat the blues, as well. I am currently reading “The Book Of Ho’oponopono”, which is life changing.
- Spend more time with your pets – I am so crazy busy year ’round that I am not getting as much play time with my two furry friends as I would like. I am sure that is probably true for you too. Holiday breaks are a great time to reconnect with them in a real way. They are family members, too. Spoil them with special treats and extra cuddles and play time while you can.
- Watch – The holidays are also a great time to watch great films. I watch Giant, The Godfather 2, The Women, A Letter To Three Wives and a host of other classics every year at this time. This year, I am also doing some of my fav French films like Jean de Florette/Manon of the Spring and Amelie. With a ton of great films released every holiday season, it is also a great time to do a double feature at your multiplex.
- Listen – Get your groove on or chillax completely with your very favorite songs! I have dozens of playlist including one with all my fav songs of all time on Spotify. Listening to your songs will lift your spirits quicker than any drug or drink you can ever take!
- Shop – My Mama loved to shop and passed a literal shopaholic gene onto me! I LIVE to shop. Since I know I am probably going to spend holiday seasons alone, I always make sure to save a little to shop the Black Friday sales. Nothing like some new frocks, shoes or tech gear to lift the spirits. If you can’t afford a major thing – I am very tight this year having lost over $30k in biz due to all those hurricanes! – just get something little to commemorate the holiday. One year I was really skint. But I got a lovely snow globe that I still love. Things are so cheap at the sales, that even if you only can swing $5 you can spoil yourself with something.
- Get away – If you can afford to, a short three-day trip somewhere exotic or even local, goes a long way to breaking you out of a holiday funk. I like to try to take one either between Thanksgiving and Christmas or Christmas and New Year’s, every year.