Since long before Elvis Presley first crooned those famous lyrics in 1957, Thanksgiving through the New Year has been a lonely reality for many who feel that “you might be doing all right with your Christmas of white, but I’ll have a blue, blue, blue Christmas.”
There is just something about this time of year that seems to amplify aloneness, especially if it is a new status, and even if you enjoy your solitude the rest of the year. Never has this been truer than in 2020. With government lockdowns and social-distancing rules, many may not be near the people they love.
If the coming holidays have you singing the blues, here are a few ways to make it a holly, jolly holiday time instead.
No, I am NOT going to offer the well-worn suggestion to work in a soup kitchen, host an orphan or volunteer in some uncomfortable way. Yes, these are all rewarding activities and they have the power to shift your focus from your loneliness to the joy of others—and that comes with a little endorphin boost that may help. So, if you want to serve at a shelter, make a meal for a neighbor, or buy an entire list of holiday groceries for a family in need, go for it.
If what is really on your mind is making yourself, not necessarily others, feel better, that is perfectly okay. Here are three questions to help you get there.
WHAT do you really enjoy doing?
Make a list of things you love to do with or without others. Circle those you are most likely to choose when you might be tempted to succumb to isolation and self-pity.
Do you enjoy your work or like working on projects around your house? Why not chose to do a work or home project—even if it is Christmas Day? If you genuinely enjoy it, and you know you’re going to have extra time on your hands, it makes sense to spend some of that time being productive in a way which truly satisfies you. If your work is around people, even better. Then you truly are not alone.
Love hiking? Go for a hike! Enjoy traveling? Take a solo trip. No matter what you enjoy, the holidays are the best time to treat yourself.
WHO do you really enjoy spending time with?
Make a list of people you genuinely enjoy. If no events are planned with them, plan one!
I’ll give you an example. After my divorce a few years ago, I lost contact with much of my family—former in-laws (which were more like my own) and my own relatives (which were difficult relationships anyway, and their demise is a story for another day). The point is that when I take inventory now of the people who mean the most to me, it’s a different list. My “family” consists of my boyfriend, my closest friends, my kids and my grandson. So, this year, rather than stay stuck in the struggle of not enjoying Thanksgiving with large extended families as I always have, I planned a “Friendsgiving” meal for the Sunday before the holiday. I also encouraged my boyfriend to take the time off work for us to drive the six hours to spend Thanksgiving Day with his family across the state. We’ll watch our favorite football games, play some board games—just like old times, except I had to recreate it in a way that fits my new life. Sure, it looks and feels different, but it’s not at all lonely. It just required some creative initiative.
If you or your loved ones feels the need to social distance or you live too far apart for gathering, you can do this across the globe using platforms like Zoom and House Party where your guests can drop in and out as they please—and no one has to cook, clean or even get fully dressed!
What is it that you are ACTUALLY MISSING this year?
When you stop for just a moment and think about the loneliness you feel this time of year, what exactly do you think you are missing? If it is a particular event, get creative and recreate it. If it is a certain person you can no longer be with for whatever reason, think of who else brings you similar joy then make plans with them.
Whatever you determine to be the missing ingredient in your recipe for holiday happiness, just add in a dash of contemplation and a heaping spoonful of intention. You truly can make your holiday season what you want it to be. Even in 2020.
–by Annie Allen, Life Transitions Coach | Starting Over Stronger™ Coaching & Podcast | StartingOverStronger.com