I will never forget the first Christmas after my divorce fourteen years ago.
I was miserable.
During my marriage, Christmas included the children waking up in pajamas with footsies, gifts under the tree, and the in-laws baking in the kitchen before the sun broke the cold horizon. (As much as you might dislike your mother-in-law, thank the heavens she is there). A prevailing sense of all-around happiness and contentment was present. Did I take it for granted? Possibly. Did I expect it avidly without much appreciation? More than likely. Do I miss being part of a family on the holidays? You better believe it.
Now the children do the two-house thing. Some years I have them, and other years I don’t. I have to acquiesce to the fact that I have to share my kids. Fourteen years of doing this, and a near-death experience in 1992, have given me the tools to make Christmas and any holiday still feel pleasant.
Special days while you are single do not have to insinuate misery. You can still make the best out of a situation that wasn’t in the script. (Lemonade out of lemons or some kind of a drink, I prefer Grenadine out of Pomegranates).
How do you keep the spirit up as you celebrate the holidays without your kids half the time, and without the family you were a part of all the time? And how do you refrain from eating an entire half-gallon of ice cream by yourself while watching It’s a Wonderful Life – with a box of tissue nearby?
You focus on your blessings, especially those that are so abundant that we don’t even notice them.
- We are alive. That’s right, breathing is incredible. In 1992, I had a ruptured aneurism in my brain. I miraculously survived what kills 90 percent of people. Did anyone say, carpe diem? Seize the day, live life to the fullest like there is no tomorrow. Loneliness on this special day will take less of a place in our hearts if we squeeze the nectar out of this delicious life every possible minute. With every inhale, we should have awareness of the gift that is life.
- We are Sheltered. After the recession in 2008, I lost much work as a writer and a photographer and had to short-sell my house. I stayed with friends for a year or so. Then one January I spent a week in my car in the parking lot of the coffee shop. Yes, I was homeless. I actually did not mind. It gave me a 30,000-foot perspective. Things are fine now, and I truly appreciate the roof over my head.
- We are loved. If you have children, you know what I mean. They love us insanely no matter what kind of people we are, and no mater how many times we screw up. We also have friends and relatives that take us as we are. No questions, no expectations, just us with all of our faults and limitations. We have managed to trick a few people into thinking we are lovable, and that is a huge accomplishment.
Go ahead, enjoy your holiday as a single person. Live it, feel it, cherish it, and count your blessings. You may still feel lonely and sad, and you may wish and hope and pray for something . . . or someone. Just remember, if you occasionally go to 30,000 feet and look at what you have, a tiny smile might invade your lips. (This would be a good time for some mint chocolate chip ice cream).