For the past few years, I’ve been alone on Christmas Eve because my kids celebrate Christmas with their dad and his family that day. I’ll admit that it was hard that first year when I sat alone crying that first night in the depths of despair and still reeling from their dad’s departure from our marriage. But over time, I have found that I enjoy the quiet alone time that this new tradition of Christmas Eve has become for me.
I know I could be the third wheel at someone else’s family party, but that never feels right for me. If I can’t be with my own family, then I’d rather just relax at home. It’s easier and I feel less of a charity case to be home.
One of my friends, the first year I was alone helped me to right my brain about it. Her advice (from her own similar divorced experience) was simply this:
It’s just another day when you get down to it. Yes, it’s Christmas Eve, but if you treat it like a night for you to relax and regroup, then it’s not such a big deal. It’s in the way you view the situation that you get yourself upset and make it out to be huge. It feels like a big deal, but only if you let it. So don’t let it. Cry if you must, but use this time to enjoy the house to yourself, to pamper yourself, to be grateful and to relax. And to prepare for the magical Christmas morning that is yours with the kids.
In case you need a little help, here’s what I do to pass the time before the kids return home from a full Christmas Eve spectacular with their dad and his family.
- I wrap gifts and play Christmas music.
- I make myself something especially yummy for dinner while they’re out and sometimes I even pour myself a little glass of wine.
- I watch Christmas specials to get myself in the Christmas Spirit.
- I reach out to friends who I know are also alone and we catch up, filling the time with friendship and caring.
- While many times I’ve contemplated going to Christmas service alone, I haven’t done it because our church is the same one that they attend and I haven’t found another one close to my home.
- I make it about me that night. I get comfy and cozy. I relax and pamper myself.
- I don’t look backwards, but instead I stay in the present. I don’t wish that I were included anymore with the ex’s dysfunctional family. I stay positive and happy.
- I write a list of all that I’m grateful for that happened in the past year. I look back on how far I’ve come and I look forward to the future.
- I am going to my brother’s family home on Christmas Day with my kids so I will put together any foods that I need to bring there.
- I make sure I have breakfast treats ready for the morning and do any last minute cleaning up if it’s needed.
I make the Christmas Eve night about me. While I’m a people person at heart, I don’t lament being alone for the night. Instead, I make it a celebration and get ready for the kids to come home to celebrate Christmas Day with me.
If you split the holidays with your ex, what tips do you have to share when you’re alone on the holidays? I think if we share, then maybe those who are experiencing it for the first time or feeling down about it, may feel a little less shaky.