Four Strategies that will Brighten Up Your Christmas as a Single
The Christmas season is notoriously a time of year to be with those we love. So often, the picture we have in our head is a time of family gathering and traditional togetherness.
But the reality is that for singles, the holidays don’t always look like this. Extended family members might be far away, and the years of joyful Christmas mornings with stockings on the mantle long past.
It might be tempting to drown your sorrows in a solitary glass of eggnog with a cheesy Christmas movie playing in the background, but here are four strategies to help you avoid such a dismal holiday.
Face Your Struggles Head-On
As Catholics, we’ve all heard terms like, “Pick up your cross,” and, “Embrace your cross,” but I think we often fail to realize that trying to do so can have practical benefits.
My first holiday season as a single, I was working at Starbucks and I volunteered to work on Christmas, making excuses to myself about the time and a half pay. But the reality was that working all day allowed me to ignore the fact that I was lonely and missed my family. And not surprisingly, despite a full day, my Christmas really sucked that year.
Running from your loneliness won’t make it go away. Embracing this cross and admitting to yourself that you are struggling is more than okay. Apart from the spiritual benefit of helping you make your suffering redemptive, it can also be a first practical step to helping you figure out how to make things better.
Try Adopting Someone Else’s Family
If it’s not possible to spend time with your own extended family this Christmas, and you don’t have a spouse and children of your own yet, there are still some avenues available to warm that part of your heart that craves family-togetherness.
Now is the perfect time to get better acquainted with friends or coworkers who do have families. The holiday season is the time of year when big parties are the best parties, and most people are more than generous with spots at their table.
You might even offer to help your friends with games or crafts for their kids. Tired parents always appreciate a break, and there’s nothing like seeing Christmas through the eyes of a child to help you remember the magic and joy of the season.
Of course, it’s definitely possible that you might not have any friends with families. If this is you, you might instead try looking for opportunities to volunteer that will help bring the magic of Christmas to a child.
Check out your parish’s events for opportunities to help with a Christmas pageant or with a faith formation Christmas party. Helping out with something like this will also provide the added bonus of thrusting you into a community of like-minded Catholic adult volunteers, which can actually become pretty family-like in its own way if you’re lucky.
Be Ready for any Unique Opportunities God Sends Your Way
If you have memories and fantasies of a lovely, traditional Christmas celebration, that’s fine. But don’t be too stuck on that perfect image. There are a lot of variations that can be just as meaningful.
Maybe you volunteer somewhere and meet someone who similarly has no family to celebrate with. If God sends someone like this your way at an unexpected time, be ready for the opportunity to try something new. A date on Christmas probably wasn’t in your plans, but there’s no time like the present if someone special does cross your path.
Or maybe you catch wind of some acquaintances that are planning to just hang out for the holiday. Don’t turn up your nose if their plans don’t sound traditional. If you ask to join in, it might become a meaningful new tradition for you.
Adaptability is your friend. God might just reward your openness.
Get Close to the Holy Family
More prayer is not a cure-all for loneliness around the holidays, and it would be naive to assume that everything will be totally peachy as long as you up your spiritual game. But it can certainly help.
There’s no better time than now to try meditating in a special way on Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem and the birth of the Christ Child. If you do not have a family of your own to celebrate with, invite the Holy Family into your heart. They understand your loneliness, and they’re more than happy to have you united with them.
So spend some extra time with the Scriptures, go to Adoration, try a guided meditation or some spiritual reading on the Holy Family. Try praying the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary with extra focus and attention. Consider how alone Mary and Joseph must have felt as they tried inn after inn to no avail, and join in with their happiness at the arrival of the shepherds to celebrate the birth of their Son.
Invite the Christ Child into your heart in a special way. Though He is God, He is also an adorable, cuddly Baby; and as both, He understands your desire for family better than anyone.
Growing closer to the Christ Child and His Holy Family won’t make your trials instantly better, but it will help add meaning to your suffering, and it will definitely help get you in tune with the true meaning of the season.
Adrienne Thorne is a Catholic wife, mother, screenwriter, and blogger, as well as author of the Catholic YA romance novel SYDNEY AND CALVIN HAVE A BABY. She blogs about TV and Movies from Catholic perspective at Thorne in the Flesh: A Faithful Catholic's Guide to Netflix, Hulu, and More.