Saturday, 31 October 2015

How to Cope with Being on Your Own at Christmas

Christmas, coping with being alone
Christmas can be tough for those who, for whatever reasons, find themselves on their own. And it’s made a lot worse by all the constant reminders on the TV that Christmas is all about families, children, and being with other people. This year, it’s my ex-wife’s turn to have my children for Christmas and, as my close family are all doing different things, I will be on own for Christmas again. When this first happened to me, a few years ago, I thought that Christmas alone would be really dismal and depressing, but actually, it doesn’t have to be that way at all. Here are my ten tips on how to cope with Christmas on your own.


1. Don’t try to pretend that it’s not Christmas
There is no way that you can lock yourself away and pretend that is just another day, so don’t even try. You will be bombarded with Christmas music on the radio, the TV will have nothing but Christmas specials on, and, if you go out, random strangers will say “Merry Christmas” to you.  Trying to ‘Bah Humbug’ your way through the holiday period won’t work and it will make you more miserable.

2. Don’t forget that the shops will be shut!
Here’s a little practical note that might be useful if you are spending Christmas alone for the first time; don’t forget that a lot of the shops will be shut on Christmas Day!  This isn’t as big a problem as it used to be, but still, you don’t want to be wandering around the streets on Christmas Day looking for a shop to buy your lunch.

3. Get some Christmas decorations
The first ever Christmas that I truly spent without any family around me, I was living in a hostel for the homeless, but the residents still decorated the place for Christmas. One guy found a Christmas tree that had been thrown in a skip, and the rest of us pooled what little money we had to buy some Christmas decorations the local pound store. No Christmas tree had ever looked so good!

4. Have a Christmas dinner
One of the advantages of being alone at Christmas is that, if you don’t like the traditional Christmas lunch, you can have whatever you want to. Do, though, get something special in for the day and treat yourself to whatever food it is that you love. I actually like the traditional Christmas food, so I will be getting a frozen roast turkey meal, Christmas pudding, and mince pies, but if you love chicken vindaloo, then you go for it!

5. Buy yourself some presents
I will admit that opening Christmas presents on Christmas morning, without the kids being around, would feel a bit flat, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t treat yourself to few gifts over the holiday period.

6. Go to the pub
I’m not advocating that you go and drown your sorrows, but a trip to your local pub is always a good idea for Christmas Day. It will get you out for a while and you are more than likely to find other people at the pub that are on their own for Christmas too. Don’t overdo the booze though, remember, it is a depressant.

7. Phone the family
Telephone family and friends and wish them a merry Christmas like you mean it! If you do have kids, then they will be excited and enjoying themselves, so don’t bring them down just because you are on your own. With a bit of luck, some of their Christmas spirit will rub off on you.

8. Go to church
This one will obviously depend on your own personal beliefs, but even a non-regular church goer can enjoy the Christmas carols at a church. For my part, I will be making at least one trip to the local Salvation Army over Christmas, because they helped me so much when I was at the lowest point I my life and they are always so welcoming.

9. Don’t be afraid to have some fun
If you are on your own for Christmas, you might feel almost afraid to have any fun for fear that it will bring back memories that will make you sad. Christmas is a time for reflection, sometimes, and everyone thinks back to Christmases of the past. You can be grateful that you had those Christmases with your family, and still enjoy a Christmas on your own.

10. Do whatever you want to do
What I certainly won’t be doing this Christmas, is trying to pretend that nothing has changed.  Don’t try and keep up old family Christmas traditions, invent some new ones of your own. Make Christmas the way that you want it to be, but do make it something a bit special. In my own experience, trying to pretend that Christmas day is just another day doesn’t really work.

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