Christmas is a few days away. I’ve been dreading its arrival this year because it will be a holiday spent alone. I may stop by my sons’ apartment for an hour and two. Give both of them a hug and wish them Merry Christmas before heading home to my quiet one-bedroom apartment.
My mom and sisters are far away, living in different states. I’ll give them each a call.
But that will be it. The rest of the day will be spent by myself.
There’s no Christmas tree adorning my living room with its dark green boughs filling the air with its soft pine scent. No stockings hung — no wrapped gifts.
This is the reality of being both widowed and divorced — the unpleasant experience of spending holidays alone. One of the feared things that kept me in a failing marriage for too long.
I know some of my friends will be sitting around Christmas trees in their homes, opening gifts. Others will be off on holiday enjoying the snow-packed slopes under their skis or the warm sun on sandy beaches — all in the company of friends or family.
I considered volunteering at a shelter. I even thought of passing out cups of coffee to the homeless until I realized that that’s probably not a smart thing for me, as a middle-aged woman, to do on my own.
It’s hard to know what to do with myself on such a day. I don’t want to be a whiner or to throw a pity party for myself. I know I’m not the first to find myself alone on Christmas, nor will I be the last.
Real Meaning of Christmas
As a Christian, Christmas is an important day. It’s a yearly reminder for me to stop and give thanks for Jesus Christ’s birth, my Lord and Savior. Jesus, Emmanuel — God with me. Can I remember that in the quiet of my apartment? That God is with me? I am not alone, no matter my circumstances?
Yes, my unhappiness over my situation often colors my perception, leading me to forget that God arrived as a newborn baby all those years ago. An infant born in a humble manger so that I’ll remember on days such as these that I’m not alone.
No, this is not the life I’d wanted at this stage of life. I thought I would be enjoying my empty-nest days with my late husband. That he and I would watch movies with our grown sons, while we sip cups of hot chocolate, and admire our new gifts.
So, I am alone this year at Christmas.
I learned all too well life often doesn’t go as planned. I wonder what next year’s holiday will bring. Where will I be, and who will I be with? Will next year be spent the same? Alone? I work to drown out hopelessness and fear, which both tell me not to get my hopes up.
It’s too easy to let discouragement and worry cloud the whole message of this season. God sent his Son to offer a message of hope. To bring light to this dark world. To my dark heart.
I will be alone on Christmas Day, but I’m not really. Sometimes it takes these types of jarring and unwanted situations for me to remember Jesus, God with flesh, has come all those years ago so that I’m never alone. Not this Christmas season. Not ever.