While most of us will spend Christmas with family and friends, spare a thought for those who’ll be on their own this year.
‘Plenty of people spend Christmas Day on their own,’ I’ve been saying to myself this week. ‘Really. Not just losers and loners, but popular folk.’
I know there are women my age who are single, or don’t have children, and so spend Christmas Day with other single, child-free friends quaffing bubbly and eating smoked salmon blinis.
I know there are women my age who are single, or don’t have children, and spend Christmas Day eating Chinese takeaway leftovers and vats of salted caramel ice-cream.
I know there are women my age who aren’t single and do have children and wish they could spend the festivities in a panic room with a case of Prosecco and a flotation tank.
I also know there are women my age who will spend Christmas alone, not through choice, but through circumstance.
I know all this, and what scares me is that this year, I fall into the last category.
Why am I on my own this Christmas?
I’m getting divorced. I requested it of my husband three days before my 50th birthday in July. I won’t go into why I asked for it, but I’ve not been happy for over a decade, and finally realised I couldn’t plod along any longer.
In the midst of all this, I managed to manifest my perfect man, whom I met in the sea. Yes, in the sea – I’m one of those wild sea swimmers. When I showed his photo to friends their responses were largely, ‘wow, he looks like a film star!’ And that turned into a four-month whirlwind romance that gave me everything I’d ever wished for, and then some. I’d suggested to him that we spend Christmas Day together, to which he said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it, that’ll be lovely.’ Great.
Then as suddenly as he appeared, he disappeared. No call, not even a ‘Hey, you’re dumped’ text. Completely ghosted. So that was nice. I know he’s not dead because I saw him last night in town, very much alive. I’ve spent the past two weeks crying myself to sleep because he gave me everything, then took it all away in an instant, breaking my already quite battered heart into a million pieces. To say I’m not ‘feeling Christmas’ this year is an understatement.
I do have options though, for which I am grateful
I do have parents, so while I don’t have to be on my own this Christmas, with the rollercoaster of emotions I’m feeling I just don’t feel like putting a brave face on things.
Nor do I want to flop around someone else’s house wailing like a banshee. I can’t face the inevitable traffic jams, the ‘you’re better off without him’ (ex-boyfriend), and ‘you did the right thing’ (ex-husband) because right now all I feel is awash with grief.
If the sun is shining, I can go for a seafront walk or a roller skate, or even a swim. I can put Baileys in my coffee and drink it on the beach. I hate TV, so I could read a book. Maybe I could knock for one of my dog friends, or all of them. There are worse places to be.
In fact, it could be a lot worse…
When I was a kid, our next-door neighbour (who was about 200 years old) was on her own. Not because she had no family, but because she was so cantankerous, they avoided her. So, every Christmas Day, just as Mum was serving lunch, I’d whizz round with a glass of sherry, a plate of food, and a bowl of Christmas pudding on a tray. Same on Boxing Day. Mum’s homemade mince pies went round on Christmas Eve, too.
If you have an elderly neighbour who you know will be alone at Christmas, maybe you could do the same? Older people don’t eat much, so you could make them a little plate of dinner and a Tupperware box of extras for Boxing Day, and it won’t break the bank.
Spend five minutes talking to them, more if you can spare it. If your kids aren’t feral, maybe bring them to say hello for five minutes, and get their cheeks pinched. Maybe even consider getting them a pressie? That’s where your homemade biscuits or that tin of Lily of the Valley talcum powder you got last year from your aunt comes good.
If you have a relative who’s on their own but not nearby, once you’ve got the turkey/nut roast in the oven, pour yourself a drink and ring them. Just wishing them a happy Christmas is better than doing nothing. A call can make all the difference.
As for us, ahem, young ‘uns…
Do you have a newly single friend (*waves*) who could do with a cheer up? Ask them to make/bring something for the table and invite them for the main event if you’ve got room. Or maybe something like a Christmas morning Baileys. They might even make themselves useful and do some washing up.
If, like me, they’re a hot mess, they might say no, but it’s nice to be asked. Just have a box of tissues and a stiff drink at the ready for them and let them crack on if they say yes.
We don’t have to do a lot for it to mean a lot, and you don’t have to be religious to do something Christian. It’s in all of us, we just get so caught up in our own lives that we forget about everyone else.
Knowing that you’ve made one person’s day a bit brighter will feel pretty good as you down that last glass of fizz on Christmas night. Kindness a is powerful thing; loneliness is one of the biggest causes of suicide. You may even save someone’s life without knowing it.