The excitement in the weeks leading up to Christmas is always palpable. In between busting out the holiday decorations and shopping for gifts for family and friends, you can't help but get into the festive spirit. But what if you didn't grow up with that kind of cheer?
For me, being alone isn't a bad thing. I don't have to worry about making travel arrangements or feeling uncomfortable around relatives for extended periods of time.
In my family, Christmas was seen as a time where you only thought of what gifts to give other people and nothing more. Only once did my parents make the effort to set up a tree with ornaments. That Christmas was a happy memory for me, but for my parents, it was just an attempt to get their daughters "over" the hype of Christmas. Long story short? It failed. As I've gotten older, Christmas has become an important part of my identity (I'm a baptized Christian and a confirmed Episcopalian), but because my family still doesn't celebrate it, I have to celebrate Christmas alone.
I know that my celebrating Christmas alone would horrify some of my friends, who think that Christmas is a time for family togetherness, but for me, being alone isn't a bad thing. I don't have to worry about making travel arrangements or feeling uncomfortable around relatives for extended periods of time.
My previous attempts at a solo Christmas have been haphazard and random, so, like other people who deal with the time crunch of the pre-Christmas season, I have to make an effort to make Christmas a time of joy. It's a time of year that, stereotypically, can be rather stressful, but I always try and focus on my personal happiness. I remind myself that Christmas isn't an event that requires absolute perfection — instead, it's about developing traditions and getting better at welcoming the holiday in ways that work for you.
In addition to typical things like watching cheesy Christmas movies and decorating my home, I most look forward to the actual holidays of Christmas Eve and Christmas. I usually spend the day enjoying a few treats and drinks before attending Christmas Eve mass, where, despite being by myself, I'm surrounded by my neighbors and community. And on Christmas Day, I sleep in a little and relax in my pajamas while soaking up all the magic of my Christmas tree. My mother and my twin sister, to my surprise, have given me gifts to open on Christmas morning in recent years, which is another small added touch that I like to savor and enjoy.
There's always so much emphasis on family time and going home for the holidays, but there are so many people who can't or don't want to do that. And that's OK! Spending Christmas alone has taught me that the meaning of the holiday is to welcome beauty, hope, and joy into my life whenever I can, and being with my family for the holidays wouldn't allow me to do that. I get to spend the season reconnecting with myself, and that's been the best gift of all.