Christmas is a season of joy and celebration, but when you’re away from family and friends, it can be a rough time.
Spending Christmas alone can be a daunting experience, especially when we’re constantly being bombarded with advertisements and TV commercials featuring families or couples happily celebrating this holiday together. It can easily make you feel lonely and left out during this time of the year. But it doesn’t have to be like this!
Believe it or not, it’s possible to have a joyous and fruitful Christmas on your own. If you’re alone during this holiday season, here are a few ways to make your Christmas more meaningful and filled with light.
Moderate your use of social media
Now I’m not saying you should quit social media entirely, but think about taking a break from it for a day or two and keep this time for some proper self-care.
There’s no doubt that many will be sharing their best Christmas moments and stories on social media during this festive season, and there’s nothing wrong with wanting to keep in touch with your loved ones on this day, but you might just find yourself mindlessly scrolling through an endless feed of envy-producing photos more than anything else.
When you keep seeing happy pictures of your friends and family celebrating this day together while you’re alone, it’s easy to fall into the temptation of comparison and end up wallowing in self-pity. That’s not a very pleasant way to spend your Christmas, so instead, consider using this time to…
Reconnect with yourself
The time off around the Christmas feast is a wonderful time to reconnect with yourself through personal reflection. As the end of the year draws near, spend some time to reflect on the past 12 months. You might even sketch out a timeline or outline big moments that took place each month. Seeing it all laid out like that helps you connect the dots to notice the patterns and situations and decisions that have been life-giving or draining. It’s a way to listen to how God is working in your life.
One of the best ways to give yourself the space for self-reflection is to plan a personal retreat. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a formal retreat or anything too complicated or overly planned — simply structuring intentional time away to give yourself space to think and reflect and pray can be enough.
In fact, you may not even need to go off anywhere to have a retreat, although being in a remote location can help you relax and focus better. If you don’t have the money or the time to spend a whole weekend elsewhere, you can always stay at home and have a do-it-yourself retreat instead.
The most important thing here is to keep things simple and get real with yourself. If you find yourself feeling lost or stuck during your personal reflection, don’t be too discouraged by it. Just take a step back and breathe — the fact that you are giving yourself room to get back on track now is what matters. Gently offer it up in prayer.
Consider adding some spiritual reading (Henri Nouwen or Thomas Merton or Dorothy Day are good authors to start with), or just carry on with your day while practicing intentional silence and attentiveness. Allow your spirit to rest and be nourished during this time.
Reach out to others
Core to the Christmas story is a family that was in need but found “no room at the inn.” Remember that there are many others out there who may find themselves alone or neglected during Christmas.
If you know of any friends in town who may be spending their Christmas alone too, invite them out for a quick cup of coffee. You can also participate in Christmas activities organized by your local community and make some new friends there.
If you’re up for it, consider volunteering at a soup kitchen or care facility for the elderly. Those are places where loneliness runs rampant — and many people served by those organizations can’t actually do anything about their situation.
There are other special initiatives you can get involved with to share the Christmas joy with people who are poor or on the margins, too. Aid to the Church in Need, Catholic Relief Services, and VolunteerMatch are a few places you can start with. And if you want to stay closer to home, every parish usually has some kind of giving or volunteer initiative at this time of year — they will welcome with open arms anyone who wants to pitch in.
Prepare your heart
While we’ve been trained to think that Christmas is about spending time with our loved ones (which is true to a certain extent), that’s not everything there is to this season. More often than not, we get so caught up with the idea of the logistics around holiday arrangements that we forget what we’re really celebrating.
Christmas is a time to not only remember the birth of Jesus 2,000 years ago — it’s a time to celebrate the ways His love is present to us here-and-now. The whole point of Christmas is the invitation God extends to us to share life with Him — an invitation that came to us (and continues to be present to us) in the person of Jesus.
So if you are open to this invitation — if you are looking for something more — there’s no better time to explore faith than Christmas. It’s a time to celebrate the fact that we are never alone, that God came to share our human condition. Parish communities around the world are holding on to light in the darkness as they count the days to this feast.If it’s been a while since you’ve been to Mass, you may feel nervous or unsure about returning after a long absence, but just remember that Christmas is a time for new beginnings. As we celebrate this feast, we’re called not just to remember the birth of Jesus, but to also participate in the hope it brings — the hope for change, the hope for love, and the hope for something more than what the world can offer.