Friday, December 21, 2012

Spending the Holidays Alone -- a year later

(This post from last year has been getting a lot of hits and emails lately, so I thought I'd post it again, with a few edits.  I hope it helps someone.)

Our tree, taken by me lying underneath it.     

For most of us, I dare say, the holidays are a joyful time with family and friends, great food, surprising gifts, and a general warm feeling of happiness.

However, there are a number of people who hate the holidays and I used to be one of them.  There are so many wonderful posts about the great times, but I wanted to acknowledge those for whom this time of year can be dreaded, difficult, and hard.

When I was in the military, Christmas didn't mean all that much.  No tree, no family, no gifts -- just another day.  I'd always volunteer for day duty so those who had their families with them could celebrate.  I have religious beliefs that make Christmas meaningful, but the loneliness was like a heavy fog.

Then when I was 30, I pretty much hit rock bottom in my life.  I spent the worst Christmas ever alone in my house.  I think I spent a lot of it in bed.  But the desire to be a part of a celebration was horribly painful.

Some of you have lost loved ones.  Some of you may not be able to see family.  Some of you may dread this holiday more than going to the dentist for a root canal.

I understand all of this.

To counteract these feelings surrounding the holiday, consider trying some of these things:

** Sounds trite, but volunteer in a soup kitchen or hospital.  I've been dirt poor, both financially and emotionally, and connecting with those who came to the kitchen or those in hospital was uplifting all the way around.

** Do Pay-It-Forwards for strangers -- buy them a cup of coffee if they're behind you in line, hand a card to a stranger, things like that.

**  Drive around and look at the lights.  That has always made me happy.  Be sure to take a cup of hot chocolate with you!

**  Do at least one good thing for yourself.  Buy yourself a gift -- a longed-for book, a decadent box of chocolates, a movie -- and enjoy every bit of it yourself, smiling the entire time.

** Email me.  Because I get it.  I've been on both sides of the fence.  (***Edited-- I do mean this.  This post was written in 2011, but it's 2012 and I'm still getting emails, and I WILL answer them.)

I write an open, sometimes raw blog.  Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's like this -- introspective and possibly depressing.  But I'm trying to change the depressing to an open invitation to celebrate with me.  I want to make your holiday a better one.

I'm not trying to be narcissistic or Mother Teresa, thinking I can cure all ills.  I'm just hoping that someone who's having a rough holiday will see this and know they're not alone.  I would have given anything for that in past years.

Lots of love, respect, and care to you.


Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack.  Visit her shops by clicking here.  She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party®   and author of the book Bead Soup.


  1. What a wonderful post, Lori, and an offer of fellowship! I just glanced over and saw the top of the book you're reading and only saw "Send in the Idiots" and I thought, what's Lori up to now! Love you bunches and your generous giving spirit all throughout the year!

  2. I understand your pain...always wanted a big family but never had divorced and even though I had my daughters I had never felt so alone. Now I'm remarried and his family is even smaller than mine...we have each other but I do get jelious of those who have huge family n friend gatherings...I envision myself in the future with lots of friends instead celebrating together...Aimee

  3. Amen, Lori! I've long felt that loneliness is mankind's worst ailment, and the pain is definitely sharpest when everyone around you is laughing, singing, decorating and sharing "cups of cheer".

    When the boys were small, our most enjoyable celebrations were in the church basement for community turkey dinners on Christmas Day. I don't remember what silly toy my children asked for and received on any particular Christmas... and I bet the (now grown) guys have forgotten, too. But we still talk about sitting at the long tables, eating a special meal with lots of folks we would otherwise never have met, and giggling as the volunteer Santa passed out gifts to the children. I'd go back there in a heartbeat!

    I'm praying all those folks alone find that special connection we all crave, both now and in the coming year.

  4. Great post Lori!! And so important to let other's know that they are not allone in their feelings of dreading the holidays. I ahve dreaded them for years since I was little and my parents were always in such turmultuous times- mental illness can really mess up kids when parents can't see the forest for the trees. Each year even with my wonderful husband and kids around me I struggle to fight back the darkness. It will be a constant struggle and it is exhausting. I am so lucky to have a family who understands and that does make it easier but it is never really gone.
    big Hugs dear girl!!

  5. I've been blessed to have had 49 wonderful Christmas celebrations with family and friends. I can't imagine it any other way, yet I know there are some who are not that lucky. I love that you are willing to open up to others who, for one reason or other do not, or can not celebrate. You are a wonderful, caring, giving person, always thinking of others.

    I wish for you a Christmas filled with all the things you love.

  6. You're such a sweet, kind, caring spirit. Thank you for sharing your life experiences and touching so many lives in such an inspirational and positive way. I know you've been all those things and more because of you writing such an exceptional Blog. Loves

  7. Anonymous5:04 PM

    Lori, you are such a special person! I'm one who has been feeling unhappy this Christmas season. Reading your list has made me realize how lucky I am and I there is no reason I shouldn't enjoy this Christmas. Thanks for waking me up!

  8. What a great post! I don't do the holidays much as in no decorating and since we do Yule which is today (and I had to work during the traditional greeting of the sun..grrr) we go out to a movie on Christmas. I do try to do things like give extra large tips to my servers which gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling.

  9. Thanks for this post. I'm sure it will help others.
    You always have an interesting blog to read!

  10. Anonymous7:00 PM

    Very nice post Lori. Have a great Christmas!

  11. Thanx Lori, This is a wonderful way to share during the holidays. You have such a giving spirit and have helped so many of us. I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday.

  12. I have also been there. One time I just did nothing just sat around. I have two kids but many time they would go to their Dads and I was left alone to see movies and wallow in my loneliness. Every year I feel like I would love to go to parties but I am never invited. So I usually end up making my own. I cherish all the good things I have now and the family. I create the holiday I want by making my own. I make my own traditions and enjoy my family when I can. When I can't I just feel happy to have my own time. Thanks for reposting this. I do worry about those who are lonely during the Holidays.

    Hope your Holiday is Wonderful!

  13. Christmas and the holidays from November on were never my friend either; not due to the fact I was lonely, because I have plenty of family and friends who visit now and again, but because I was always so SICK o.O

    This is the time of year that's usually the hardest for me because it's when I relapse.

    I hope this year your holidays are filled with light, love, happiness, health and of course family and friends!

  14. A wonderful post Lori. I am a sucker for big family Christmas, I want to spoil my kids and see their faces light up. This year would not be so good, but I have a guardian angel who helped me out. I hope your Christmas is delightful! Love your tree. I will have to try that, Maybe I can get a good shot of it.. :)

  15. oh, Lori... Thank you for sharing. This year will be a hard one for us, but I know how incredibly blessed I am. Thank you for your openness. It is good to know I am not alone in feeling this way sometimes. Love you-

  16. Anonymous5:02 AM

    Lovely tree...great decorations. Its true that some love whilst others hate Christmas for their own reasons...but the bottom line is everyone must have a roof above their head with a hot meal during the festive it with family and friends or with one must be alone...even if they are forced to be alone...they are not alone...the Lord is always with them.


  17. I do like your Christmas tree! Ours is a colourful one too x

  18. I am blessed with a small family, but it hasn't always been so I can relate to the loneliness of a Christmas away from home.
    I hope your Christmas is a good one and the new year brings much happiness.

  19. So thoughtful and timely. we put so much importance and emotion into Christmas and it is so easy to forget it is just a day that celebrates the birth of Jesus, not the huge, month long, retail holiday it has become. This puts so much stress on people who have little money and increases the solitude of those without loved ones.

  20. I've spent the last 5 Christmas's alone. I've no family except for one daughter and she always works. It is depressing. I sit around here on Christmas Eve thinking about everyone that is with family and I am alone. Christmas Day is like any other. I work, making beads. Same thing, new day. Life goes on I guess....

  21. Anonymous1:16 PM

    Lori, this post was well worth re-posting. Such good advice and what an uplifting offer of friendship. We should all remember that offering that place to call or that email to contact is sometimes a lifeline for people who think that no one will understand. When I had times that were so hard to get through, I know that just KNOWING I had someone I could call or contact via email was all the strength I needed to keep going. We all need to remember to reach out!

  22. Lori, the world is a warmer place because of your open heart.

  23. I remember how incredibly moved I was last year when I read this. I just read it to my hubs, and asked him, "Isn't this someone you would like to call a friend?" His reply was...absolutely. It is posts like this that reveal how special you are Lori, and I'm just so glad to 'hang out' with you. And I look forward to meeting you someday. Many, many wished for a wonderful Christmas!

  24. My lovely Lori, I love you SO much!
    jean xoxox

  25. Thank you for being you and being there for those in need. Blessings to you and your family.

  26. What a wonderful post! I've always been very blessed, however, I noticed a friend that wasn't and invited her to spend the night and bring in the holiday with all of us :). It was our best Christmas ever! She enjoyed it, but I think we enjoyed her more. If you see/know someone that is alone, invite them in! It's never about the gifts but about love, she's since moved away, but the memory of her laugh and smiles will always be with me.


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