The world and social media is a lonely place for someone who is alone over the Holidays. I, am alone over the holidays. I just wanted to take time to share something deeply personal to me. And I hope it creates an awareness for those of you who have friends that are alone this time of year, and an opportunity to bless someone. I am not writhing this to milk an invite, I have a place to go this year. I was going to write this on a Facebook page but realized it was not an appropriate place to share what’s on my mind.
My first Christmas after my husband died, and, after all those who I loved had died as well, was one of the hardest times in my life. My husband died in January, so I spent that year bouncing around like a pinball in a pinball machine. I clung to everyone who was kind to me that year, too tightly, being a victim. Every Holiday was hard, every birthday was hard, then came Christmas. I made the huge assumption that those friends who were in my life at that time would surly invite me to their home for Christmas. After all I had been included in Memorial day, 4th of July, Labor Day and even Thanksgiving. I grew up in a home where my folks never considered blood a prerequisite for family. I can hardly think of a time when we didn’t have some displaced friend around over the holidays. But that Christmas I learned we are not all the same. And perhaps having your 500 pound friend sitting in your lovely decorated living room among your family, was not something that you wanted to happen. The friends I counted on that year, became radio silent. I was alone all of Christmas eve and day. The fact that there was no one to even send a sympathy card to when I died was haunting.
I am weeping as I write this, and I have this debate going on in my head as to what I want to say. There is a part of me that is still hurt and even resentful of those who I felt should have been there for me that Christmas and were not, but I have come to realize most of us are just doing the best we can. The whole point of this post is to create awareness and help spread a little bit of Christmas spirit, in places you may not be aware of, not to throw anyone under the bus or gain pity. Most of us at some point in our lives face something devastating.
I was kind of blindsided when I realized I was not getting even a “pity” invitation, so that Christmas Eve was tough. I was questioning my value as a human and if God really did care about me. I remember crying and eating junk food all evening. The more I cried the more I ate. The more I thought about how alone I was the more resentful I got. Then I decided to go for a drive and look at Christmas lights, I got out to my garage and shoved my 500+ size body into my car and just sat there and wept, feeling so ashamed of who I had become. I must have sat there for 20 minutes trying to muster up the courage to end my life that night. I had the garage door shut, and my hand on the key. I thought, “that will teach them, wait till they find my dead body here a few days after Christmas.” But I just couldn’t do it. I did not have the courage, but even more than that, in that moment alone in my dark garage on Christmas Eve, I knew I was worth saving, and there was value and purpose buried somewhere. So I got out of my cold car and went to bed. I got through the next day somehow. I’m sure I was either sleeping or eating the whole day away. The memory of that day is blurred.
Today I am still alone, but I am in a better place. I DO have a place to go this Christmas, and I feel hope for the future. I no longer wallow in self pity or carry around resentments. When the resentments start to rise, I list all the things I am thankful for.
If you have a friend who is alone, let me tell you what meaningful things you can do for them. The deepest need of a single person is a longing to belong. The basic human need is to have purpose and to belong. Some single people feel it too awkward to be included in someone else’s Christmas traditions. We long for the days we had out own traditions with our own loved ones who have passed. But invite them anyway. Even if you are sure they will not come. Just an invitation makes us feel loved. Offer to pick them up. The hardest part for me, being single is going and driving someplace alone, particularly on Christmas. That alone time in the car and coming home to an empty house is haunting.
One huge thing you can do is offer to go to their home and decorate, and when the holiday is over, go there and take it down as well. Bring them a poinsetta. Or even a wreath for their door. It does not have to be a huge decked out Christmas tree. The best part of the decorations is the family decorating the tree together, and the nights when the house lights are down and the Christmas lights twinkle. Some remnant of this can mean more than you could ever know.
If they don’t want to come over for Christmas dinner, bring them a plate of food later in the day and check up on them. It does not have to be a long visit. In fact we singles are use to being alone, but a visit makes us feel cared for. If you know of a special treat or tradition in his or her life, find that out and bring it to them. And let them tell you the story about what that tradition is about and the memories attached to it. You can not imagine what a ring of potato sausage or some Bondost cheese means to your Swedish friend. Find out one thing that is from their family traditions and you will be sure to bring a smile on their face.
Another thing you can do is to pick them up and bring them along to a Christmas Eve service at your church. Or ask them to come with you to your child’s Christmas program at school. Even if they are not your faith., ask them anyway. I love a Catholic Mass on Christmas Eve, even tho I am not Catholic.
Gifts are nice but your company and presents mean more. It cost nothing to be a kind friend.
It hard to be so lonely while the world is stressing out about how they are going to find a parking place at the mall and maxing out their charge cards.
My situation is far from unusual. Lonely people are not all homeless, or old widows. In fact, most of us will be in this position at some point in our lives.
So, this Christmas, love someone who is alone. Be kind to those who the world considers unloveable. and remember the best thing you can give someone is your time and kindness.