By Malinda Fugate
On my wedding day, I thought the single life was over. Never again would I be dateless or scrambling to make plans for significant occasions.
Then, one Halloween, my marriage imploded and I was suddenly dramatically single just in time for the holidays.
Not only can traditional holiday celebrations be awkward when you’re flying solo, I had additional emotional trauma to keep me company. Yet, during one of the most difficult seasons of my life, a little holiday festivity crept in among the awkward gatherings and my personal pity parties. Believe it or not, I learned a few things that might make this year a little cheerier.
- Kick the “shoulds” to the curb.
Expectations based on past holidays and Norman Rockwell paintings will merely inspire disappointment. Spend your daydreaming on creating a fresh vision for your holidays.
- Decide what really matters, and what the holidays mean to you.
Is Christmas a celebration of faith? If so, choose activities and traditions that focus on those beliefs. Is Thanksgiving about gratitude? What can you do to really concentrate your thankfulness? Get to the heart of the matter- because the reason for the season is not relationship status (let’s just pretend Valentine’s Day isn’t a thing right now, k?).
- Create new traditions.
Keep the stuff you love, if you can, of course. We all love some good warm-n-fuzzy nostalgia. But it’s a new year! All traditions had a first time, so what can you create now that will last for years to come? Whether on your own or shared with a loved one, here’s your chance to write some really good stories for future holidays.
- To be or not to be- alone that is.
Many times, it helps to avoid excessive alone time. But if that’s your thing, be purposeful about it. Those cliché bubble baths with wine and a good book are popular for a reason. Constructive alone time is very different than the usual “well, Netflix, it looks like it’s just you and me. Again.” However, when alone time just leads your mind down a trail of holiday sorrow, it’s time to gather whatever energy you’ve got and make some plans with a friend or family member. And when schedules aren’t cooperative, you’ve now got a great opportunity to do some gift shopping or craft-making. Even if you’re not in their company, thinking about people you love and focusing your time and energy doing something kind for them is a great alternative.
Spreading love and joy to others is good for the soul, and a great way to celebrate. Money is fast and easy, but an investment of time in a cause goes a long way. Plus, plugging into your community is about as far from being alone as it gets.
- You’ve heard it over and over again, but self-care is actually important.
Oh, this is a whole article subject in itself. We’re so good at neglecting our own needs, even when we’re so miserable we can’t get out of our own heads. You know the downward spiral, and it’s oddly tempting just to curl up in the sadness even though it makes us feel worse. Let’s analyze all of that later. In the meantime, make sure to take care of yourself, even if you don’t feel like it. Yes, that means reasonably healthy food choices, plenty of rest, some exercise, and all that stuff you know you need to do. These small details make a big difference and are the foundation for surviving the most, um, wonderful time of the year.
- Take the opportunity to learn, explore, and change.
It’s easy to reflect on past holidays and feel wistful and bittersweet. Honor the good memories, while creating new ones. Discover something about yourself, your family history, or your neighborhood that you never knew before. Try a new skill or hobby. Be adventurous and make a new friend or two. Take a mini-road trip and do your holiday prep in a nearby town- a change of scenery can be surprisingly inspirational.
- Holiday travel is popular for a reason.
If you’re up for the adventure of crowded airports and navigating good deals, why not treat yourself to a single girl adventure (or one with a few pals)? Maybe a snow lodge skiing weekend with a cozy fireside? Or skip the winter blues in favor of a tropical yuletide? Ring in the New Year with style in the big city? Discover another culture’s way of Christmas tradition? There’s a whole planet of possibility.
Life throws us into places we don’t want to be. So, why stay there longer than necessary? The only way to heal is to get up and try to move forward… even if that forward movement starts as a crawl. Forget the boring “ideal” notions of the season.
I wish you a warm holiday full of love…. And even some happiness.