Dear Kiss & Zutell—
I love the holidays, but this year I'm dreading them. I'm recently divorced and as per the terms of our custody agreement, the kids (ages 10, 13, 14) are spending Christmas with their dad—at a resort in Hawaii. I'll be alone for the first time ever. I want to sleep through the day and wake up on New Year's. I'm not even decorating this year.
Signed Ho-Ho-Home Alone
Dear HHHA—Not decorating? I won't allow it! You need to snap out of this funk and be jolly. If not for you, for the kids! They haven't boarded the plane yet, right? So what if they won't be with you for the actual date, you can start celebrating now. Remember what one of my favorite authors wrote, "I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all year." (That's Charles Dickens, by the way).
Christmas is a season—not just one day. Plan a bunch of fun family events—starting with tree trimming and house decorating. Then move on to a few nights of your favorite Christmas movies (It's a Wonderful Life and Christmas Vacation are tops on my list). Then perhaps a concert, ballet, or caroling (who are we kidding—teens won't carol).
The kids won't be there on December 25th? Well, have your Christmas dinner and gift exchange before they leave—call it Christmas Eve's Eve's Eve, or something like that. You get the idea.
And then they'll board the plane to Hawaii and you'll feel that wallop to the gut. That's what you're anticipating, right? That's why you're dreading the holidays. They get to go to a Christmas luau and you're home alone in a very quiet house, wondering what are they doing now?
Don't be home! Make sure you have plans for the day. Tell your friends that it's your first Christmas alone. I'm sure if you have a decent enough personality and can cook a decent enough side dish or pie, you'd be welcome at lots of friends' homes. If that doesn't work, sound a bit pathetic. You'll guilt someone into an invite.
Or call your local church, homeless shelter, soup kitchen and see about signing up to serve meals to the needy. No doubt this will surely lift your spirits. Isn't helping the less fortunate really what these holidays are about?