Since long before Elvis Presley first crooned those famous lyrics in 1957, people have sunk from Thanksgiving through the New Year into the lonely reality that “you might be doing all right with your Christmas of white, but I’ll have a blue, blue, blue Christmas.”
There’s just something about this time of year that seems to amplify aloneness, especially if it’s new, and even if we enjoy our solitude the rest of the year. So, if the coming holidays have you singing the blues, here are a few ways to reframe your blue Christmas into a holly, jolly one.
No. I am NOT going to offer the well-worn suggestion to work in a soup kitchen, host an orphan or volunteer in any uncomfortable way. Yes, these are all rewarding activities that can shift your focus from your loneliness to the joy of others—and that comes with a little endorphin boost that may help.
So, if you want to serve at a shelter, make a meal for a neighbor, or buy an entire list of holiday groceries for a family in need, go for it. But if what’s really on your mind is not making others feel better, but making yourself feel better, that’s perfectly okay. I have three questions to get you there.
WHAT do you really enjoy doing?
Make a list of things you love to do. Decide which ones to do when you might otherwise be feeling blue.
Do you enjoy your work? Like working on projects around your house? What if you chose to do a work or home project—even if it’s Christmas Day? If you truly enjoy it, and you know there’s going to be extra time on your hands that may leave you feeling lonely, why not spend that time being productive in a way that truly satisfies you? If your work is around people, even better! Then you’re really not alone.
Love hiking? Go for a hike! Enjoy traveling? Take a solo trip. No matter what you enjoy, the holidays are the best time to treat yourself.
WHO do you really enjoy spending time with?
Make a list of people you genuinely enjoy. If no events are planned with them, plan one! I’ll give you an example. Since my own divorce, I have lost connections with many family members including my ex’s side of the family (which was more like my own) as well as my own family (these were difficult relationships anyway, but their demise is a story for another day.) The point is when I look at my life now and take an inventory of the people who matter most to me, it’s a shorter list and it’s almost all friends, just a few relatives.
So, this year, rather than feel bad about not having an invitation to spend Thanksgiving with a family of my own, I planned a “Friendsgiving” meal for the Sunday before the holiday. I offered to make the turkey, so others could just bring a side dish or dessert. We’ll watch our favorite local team play football and maybe play board games. Just like old times, except I had to recreate it in a way that fits my new life—and it required my initiative. (You can do this even if you are spread out across the globe using platforms like Zoom and House Party where people can drop in and out as they please—and no one has to cook, clean or even get fully dressed!)
What is it that you are ACTUALLY MISSING this year?
When you stop for just a moment and think about the loneliness you feel during the holidays, can you pinpoint exactly what you’re missing? A particular event? Recreate it. A particular person? Who else brings you similar joy?
With a little consideration and intention, you can recreate events and feelings from whatever or whomever you are missing this year. With who, what and where you are, right here and now, you can choose joy this holiday season.
Annie J. Allen
Divorce Coach and Podcast Host
ABR RCS-D Divorce REALTOR
Starting Over Stronger (TM)
Divorce Survival and Recovery
Assisting women across the nation through divorce
Based in Kansas City, Missouri