My friend reached out to me for advice on spending her first Christmas alone. “Heather – I am dreading Christmas alone – how do you cope?” This is her first Christmas following her separation and – as a long term single blogger – she reached out for my advice on best of it. She is not alone, as statistics show that the run up to Christmas is a peak time for break-ups.
That is cold comfort when you are left out in the cold, whilst your neighbours homes seem to embody the warm and loving spirit of Christmas. I have been there. So when my friend reached out to me I looked back over how I turned what use to be a miserable time of year into an amazing period of fun, love and happiness even though I am single. I promise you can have a very happy Single-mas.
The first Christmas alone is the hardest. But it does get better.
Breaking up leaves you conflicted. There is anger, shame, guilt, depression, and confusion to deal with. All of which are perfectly normal. Christmas brings that home more than any other time of year especially when once close friends seem to distance themselves. For those of you in long term relationships it can feel like you have lost half your family.
So needless to say. It is painful.
Firstly, accept that grief is part of the process. But it is temporary. Do what you need to do to process your emotions in a healthy way.
For me, my first Christmas was spent asleep in my beautiful apartment. I was totally alone. It was the first time I felt safe for a long time. I wasn’t ready to deal with people – and if you feel that way too – it’s OK.
As those fluffy millennial memes will tell you. Self-Care is important.
However, note the advice to deal with things healthily. This does not mean exacting revenge on your ex or asking friends to take sides. It should not mean a war over the kids or pets. It does not drinking/eating/spending your way into oblivion. If you feel this way then do not be ashamed to seek professional help.
Over time I came to accept the fundamental truth. There is no changing the past. You cannot see the future.
But you are here now and you can make choices that enrich your life and for your longer term happiness. You can decide to have a very merry Christmas – whether single or not.
#1 Define what it means to have a Happy Christmas.
The truth is – we often compromise with our loved ones at Christmas. Perhaps you always went to ‘hers’, Maybe he always insisted on putting the star on the tree. Perhaps you always had to cook and entertain the same people. Maybe she always mocked the need to spend the entire day in a Christmas jumper.
Well, here is the good news.
You can have exactly the Christmas you want.
I suggest starting by making your own list. First, write all the things you will miss about Christmas with your ex. Yes, this is painful but bear with me. Secondly, write all the things that you wanted to do – but never did.
Go through your list and do your best to give yourself everything on that list.
Buy yourself an advent calendar. Decorate the tree how you want. Take yourself to a beach if you want to. Sing your heart out at a carol concert.
Just indulge that little boy or girl inside who is really in need of a lot of love right now.
#2 Find your own way to give to those you love
Separation does not just impact on your emotions, but your finances too. Having to find a new place, pay childcare etc, often means you cannot be as generous with gifts as you once were.
Now is the perfect time to let any creative talents shine.
Maybe you have taken beautiful photos on your phone – in which case give them to your friends as a gift. Maybe you have green fingers and can give home-grown flowers to your nearest and dearest. Make cakes, or layer cake ingredients in jars for a pretty gift. Perhaps write a thoughtful letter to those who have supported you. Make decorations for those you love. Perhaps give a second hand book or movie you loved to someone you know you will enjoy it.
True friends will understand this, and unleashing your creative side will give you a happy glow.
#3 Get that Christmas Connection.
It can be easy to get grinch-like if you are feeling lonely – but here is the newsflash. You are not the only person who is single at Christmas.
Firstly, you may find that a flurry of invites come through your door.
No one likes the idea of someone spending Christmas alone. Over the last few years my friends have ignored my protests and bundled me into the back of a fiesta. Thereafter I spend the day being force-fed amazing food whilst my friends children let you play with their toys. I am eternally grateful for my friends.
Other single friends may suggest a Christmas dinner together.
Go to a fancy restaurant or take a dish round to your friends. Get merry and laugh. Distance is not an issue either! I have skyped friends in the USA whilst they are preparing dinner.
Don’t forget that there are charities that work all year round – and are desperate for volunteers. Helping out at a soup kitchen or visiting lonely pensioners can be rewarding for all involved. It also is extremely humbling so hear how much hope and gratitude people living in the worse possible circumstances have.
#4 Just remember – It is just one day.
I am not going to pretend it’s not tough at times, even years later. But it is just one day. Wipe your tears-and the slate – clean. Think ahead to what you want your future to look like.
Do you want to relieve the pain of what may have passed, or do you want to give yourself a gift of a bright and happy life?
Do you want to laugh more? Have more fun? Try new activities? Maybe meet new people? There is nothing to stop you.
You can commit now to making each and every day special.
You never know – it may mean you get to kiss that special someone under the Mistletoe.