Christmas is almost upon us again. The shops are crammed with sparkling decorations and excited shoppers. Christmas trees are beginning to appear in folk’s windows, the first Christmas songs are being played on the radio, and even the weather is turning cold and frosty as if in anticipation of the big day. Christmas can be a time of great joy and laughter, of celebration with family and close friends, of parties and dinners and cosy firesides just for two; but it can also be the loneliest time of the year for many. More people call the Samaritans at Christmas and New Year than at any other time during the year and suicide rates spike too.
In my life I’ve spent plenty of Christmases with only my dog and cat for company but it doesn’t have to be miserable just because you’re on your own.
Here are my top tips for a Merry Christmas, just for you!
1. Buy a present for yourself early in the year. Wrap it up and keep it safe ready for Christmas morning. Even though you know what it is, you’ll still have the enjoyment of finally getting your hands on it!
2. Make sure you plan your whole day and dedicate it to yourself. Make yourself great food, enjoy your favorite music, watch whatever festive films you like, and enjoy a glass of something you wouldn’t usually have. You are special and this day is for you!
3. Check out what your local community has planned. Midnight Mass with Christmas Carols is a lovely way to start the holiday. The morning service is very often followed by coffee and mince pies in the church hall and this is a great way to socialise and perhaps meet other people who may be in a similar situation to yours.
4. Pick up your phone and wish a friend ‘Merry Christmas’! If you’re worried about interrupting someone’s day, wait until the evening to make your call.
5. Don’t forget Facebook to keep in touch with your friends and family. And of course there are plenty of on-line forums where you can bet there’ll be other people in the same boat as you who would welcome the opportunity to exchange messages for a while.
6. Charitable organizations are always looking for volunteers on Christmas Day. Rather than spend the day alone, why not offer to help out at your local homeless shelter or soup kitchen? You could spend a few hours visiting elderly folk at a nursing home. Helping other people makes you feel needed and gives you a sense of purpose. Look at members of your community whose situation is as bad as or even worse than yours and give yourself a sense of perspective.
7. If you like to work and your company is open over Christmas, offer to work. If you’re at work you’ll be kept busy and there will also be others to chat to and share the day with. You could even make some extra money which you can enjoy later when the holiday is over.
8. Get out and about! Rather than spend the whole day indoors with no social interaction whatsoever, go for a walk somewhere beautiful after dinner. You will meet plenty of other folk out strolling and working off their Christmas dinners. Sometimes, just seeing total strangers smiling and wishing each other, “Happy Holidays,” can really brighten your mood.
9. Enjoy the luxury of having no-one else to consider! Many families absolutely dread the festive season; all that stress, having to spend time with people they don’t even like, not to mention the expense!
Christmas by yourself can be a time of quiet reflection on the past year and a time of planning what you’re going to achieve in the new one. Some of the Christmases I spent alone were actually some of the most peaceful and enjoyable I’ve ever had!
So, if you are alone this Christmas I wish you a peaceful and relaxing one and I hope some of my tips are helpful.