Last night I engaged in something very special to me – a solitary Christmas celebration. Before anyone gets confused or upset, let me clarify something. I’m not suggesting that you ditch your family for the holidays. And I don’t want anyone to think that I’m all alone for Christmas because if you have seen my social media feed, you’ll know that’s not true.
I was alone for Christmas one year. I was dating a guy and expecting to spend the holidays with him. At the last minute, he decided to go visit his brother for Christmas and didn’t invite me along. (No, we didn’t stay together). By then, all flights, buses, and trains were sold out and I couldn’t go spend the holidays with my own family. So, I was left on my own.
Don’t feel sorry for me. It wasn’t a sad Christmas. I went to Mass followed by a Christmas Eve walk in the park downtown, enjoying the solitude and the beautiful Christmas lights. When I got home, I snuggled up in bed with a mug of hot cocoa and my copy of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. I enjoyed the time alone, thinking about what Christmas is really all about and life in general.
From that time on, I found that I actually craved some alone time during the holidays. Oh sure, I love my time with my family – it’s a huge part of what Christmas should be, right? But I also find that a small solitary Christmas celebration is something I truly value. It usually happens on Christmas Eve. Every year, after everyone else has gone to bed, I take some time to bask in the glow of the holiday.
I often begin with the tradition of the Nativity tray. When I come back inside, I turn on the Christmas lights and pull out my journal. Sometimes, I reflect on our Christmas celebration so far and jot down ideas for next year. Other times, it becomes a bit of a year-end reflection. I think about all the good things that happened in the past year and count my blessings. Each year it becomes a time for me to bask in the glow of Christmas joy and really appreciate just how blessed I am.
My little private celebration almost always culminates in some Christmas treats that I’ve tucked aside for myself and of course, some holiday reading. At times, it’s a rereading of a favorite classic – A Christmas Carol, A Child’s Christmas in Wales, or The Gift of the Magi, for example. Other years, I find something new to read. This year, it’s Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas, a Jane Austen mystery. And because I like to extend the season all the way through the 12 days, I’m reading the book, written like a journal with daily entries, right through Epiphany.
This solitary Christmas has become one of my favorite parts of the holiday. Oh believe me, I love those moments of holiday hoopla with the family. I love our annual Boxing Day group hibernation tradition. And I love heading to Mass to celebrate Jesus’ birthday as a church community.
But I highly recommend taking even just a few minutes to steal away on your own this holiday season. Revel in the peace and quiet of the moment. Immerse yourself in those ooey gooey Christmas feelings for a while. Let go of the holiday stress and take only the joy with you into the future. And maybe, like me, you’ll come out on the other side, a more relaxed and joyful person.
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