This may be a very lonely Christmas. We’ve already resigned ourselves to an “atypical” December, if I’m to be kind about it. We’re not seeing family like we usually do. Sure, we’ll do a phone call here and there, but it’s just not the same, you know?
I’m guessing you do know. This year is weird. This year is hard.
Still, I don’t want it to feel like a lonely Christmas for my kid. I really want to get it “right” for her. This matters to my heart.
So…I’m doing something about it. I’m changing my perspective.
We can make the Christmas holiday feel lighter despite the circumstances — or perhaps, because of them.
See what the kids see
If Christmas was a happy time for us when we were kids, we often think back to how it “used to be” when we were growing up. Naturally, we want the same kinds of joyful holiday memories for our children.
What we need to remember, though, is that this is our kids’ childhood; not ours. Whatever we do now is their normal. It doesn’t have to match what we did. THIS version—today’s—will be their nostalgia.
Maybe they’ll enjoy the stillness; the lack of disrupted schedule and travel plans that pull them away from the magic of frosty winter windowpanes.
Maybe they’ll revel in the baking that they get to do with us, rather than being underfoot in someone else’s busy kitchen.
Maybe they’ll enjoy waking up on a quiet, cozy morning of no expectations; no formality.
Maybe stillness is just what they need this year. (Yes, perhaps even more than they’ve already had; the stillness of reflection and connection are entirely different from the stillness of pandemic.)
Maybe they’ll like snuggling on our laps for awhile. This might not be a lonely Christmas for them. Maybe what they want most is us. The home that is us.
Be intentional and specific about creating joy
Another way to avoid a lonely Christmas is to be proactive about how we want the holiday to look.
Maybe we birth some new traditions. Maybe we designate Christmas as a day for festive clothing, or maybe everyone dons their warmest flannels.
Maybe we create joy for someone else. Maybe it’s the neighbor who lives alone and might be feeling sad; maybe it’s someone with whom we want to make amends. Perhaps we drop off a card in their mailbox; perhaps we take the first step to say “Hi. It’s been awhile.”
Maybe our child pretends to play music on a homemade instrument while we sing a Christmas song. Maybe we let ourselves be a little — I don’t know — goofy.
Maybe we make a tradition of calling our faraway and beloved people on Christmas Day; or not calling people on Christmas Day, keeping it sacred for our family. Maybe Christmas is about feeling emotionally safe and peaceful this year, whatever that looks like.
Surrender our expectations
This might be a lonely Christmas. Or — it might not be a lonely Christmas at all. Maybe we’ll hide under a self-help book for half the season, but maybe we won’t. Maybe, just like a much anticipated milestone birthday, we’ll wake up and realize, “Oh. This feels pretty much like yesterday. And I made it through yesterday alright.”
Maybe we’ll let ourselves have our feelings. Maybe there’s a time and a place for the ones that feel difficult, and maybe we’ll grant ourselves permission to find peace with them. Maybe we’ll just be…alright.
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The “lonely Christmas” might be a gift.
What a lot of this boils down to, it seems, is taking care of ourselves. If we feel pangs of loneliness, we can do something about that. We can seek out love; perhaps not the big-group-love that the holidays sometimes offered in years past, but maybe another little inkling of it somewhere. It’s everywhere, I’m told.
Maybe we’ll see festive lights that warm our souls. Maybe we’ll watch It’s a Wonderful Life and remember that it actually is wonderful– at least some of the time. If it’s not feeling wonderful, we can work to make it so again. Not work that requires heavy emotional lifting, though — maybe we can just allow it to enter our spaces. Offer it an invitation, maybe, like a warm cup of cocoa ready to rest gently in our hands.
Maybe we see magic in our child’s eyes. Maybe, just maybe, they’re reflecting a little bit of what they see in ours.