Written by Karen Laing
For those who are living overseas for the first time, are new empty nesters, or have recently lost a loved one, the holidays can be a daunting time. There’s a pressure to “do something special”, always in large gatherings — but that doesn’t always have to be the case. There are many ways you can have a special, restful, rejuvenating and enjoyable holiday season, all on your own.
“Spending Christmas alone can certainly be liberating. We live in a world where we are expected to conform – not doing so can be an exciting phenomenon. Of course, it really depends on which part of the world you are in – culturally speaking. Here in the West, social solitude is still stigmatized. Instead, the cultural norm is to be connected on a day-to-day basis, especially on Christmas Day.”
We’re sticking with the bit about it being liberating. We’ve gathered simple ways you can keep busy through the holiday season, for any budget, skill set or energy level.
Plan ahead so you have activities to look forward to each day
Being liberated of obligation doesn’t mean you have to opt out of social interaction altogether, though the holidays can keep the people you know pretty busy. If you’re a confident socializer or looking to meet some new people, why not jump on Meetup.com or check your local community board for some mixers? There’s no reason to quit being active in building relationships – there’s a big world out there looking for you!
There’s also no pressure to over-socialize if you’re hearts just not in it. It’s a great time of year for a relax, and a low key kind of holiday season might be exactly what you need this year, so take it as you feel.
Splurge and treat yourself
Why not treat yourself to an OTT experience or meal? Spoiling yourself doesn’t have to be a guilt fest anymore, not when the kids are grown up and on with their own lives, and you are running your own race. And spoiling yourself doesn’t have to be expensive – why not go to see your favorite classic holiday film? Eat Christmas dinner out of tradition in Chinatown, or go all out and get to the most elaborate restaurant you can to have a delicious feast.
Take a walk down memory lane
This Christmas might be your first without a special and important loved one who passed away this year. It is tough to be in a festive mood when you might be feeling down. Everyone approaches these feelings differently, though it might be a nice time to go through old photos, movies, letters or even social media accounts to remember the great holidays you took before. Sometimes Christmas is the only really quiet time of the year for reflection, so take this time to walk down memory lane, without anyone rushing you through.
While you’re at it, why not organize your moments so they are on hand throughout the year – whenever you do have a quiet moment to enjoy the memories you’ve shared with loved ones.
Join a Cause
Nothing keeps your mind busier than helping someone else in a time so synonymous with giving. It doesn’t have to be a shelter or a charity if that’s not what you’re into – help your neighbor, create something in a group, or join a community initiative – the list is endless for great things you can assist with. Take a cue from this guy who started knitting tiny hats for premature babies from the comfort of his nursing home.
You might be spending this time alone, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend it at home. Travelling near or far this holiday season gives you the chance to go off the beaten path and experience something cool and unusual. There are plenty of amazing trips you can take solo. This is also an easy way to have some social connection as others are in the same position as you, travelling alone or in small groups in similar situations – you never know who you’ll meet!
Often the hardest part of spending holidays alone is navigating old traditions you’ve grown up with, while embracing new traditions for yourself. It can be especially difficult if you’re grieving from the loss of a loved one. However there’s help at hand, and you don’t have to follow the pressure of constant socializing that society demands for the holiday season. A special holiday season looks different for every person – so you do you!
Karen Laing is the founder and owner of Lady Anne Funerals. Karen loves golf, holidays in the sunshine in Bali with her family and serving her community in West Ryde, Sydney.