While Christmas might seem far off, the store shelves are already bulging. Sometimes our children and grandchildren are far away, travel is not possible, and we find ourselves left to our own devices. Time for creativity! With a bit of planning, your holiday season can be wonderful!
Plan Ahead...If you know you are going to be alone, make some plans! Perhaps you belong to a social club - maybe you can throw a big potluck dinner for others who will also be alone for the holidays. One year, my Golden Girls household put together a Thanksgiving dinner for our single friends and it grew and grew, until we had 33 people for a sit down dinner and three turkeys! It turned into a really fabulous day with one group watching games on TV, another group handling the kitchen, and a third group setting the giant table that we put together. Another time, we gathered assorted relatives from three different families and celebrated together. Anything works as long as there is a turkey in the oven, pumpkin pie cooling somewhere, and you have dug out the tablecloth and cloth napkins!
Have a Multicultural Housemate Holiday Party!
The holiday season is a perfect excuse to throw a party! Any kind of party! Consider celebrating together and draw on each other's family traditions and recipes to create a super-hybrid holiday season. One year, we had a cookie-making party...we invited friends, and made cookies all day, had cookie sheets everywhere, then gave them away. Another year, a Jewish roommate schooled us on Hanukkah tradition and we attended a musical event at a church. And of course, nothing is more magical than going to midnight mass with all of its pomp and ceremony. Honor your traditions and adopt some new ones. With the right planning and a variety of friends, you can make the holidays last from the first day of Hanukah to Christmas, Boxing Day, Kwanzaa and finally, New Years' Eve.
Spread the Cheer.
Don't forget those special moments when you reach out to others. Many years ago, I participated with a group called The Holiday Project where we visited people in nursing homes on Christmas Day. It's still around in some localities and there are similar groups. These seniors often don't get visitors, and your few minutes with them are priceless, for you and for them. Maybe there is a Secret Santa group that needs a volunteer. Consider helping out at a local food bank or soup kitchen. It's easy and rewarding. There are many websites, such as Volunteer Match, that are useful resources for finding these connections.
And here's a thought... do you know a single mother who may be struggling to buy presents for her kids? Or is there someplace where you can adopt a family? You and a friend could surprise them with a bag full of goodies.
Don't Be Shy!
Now's the time to put yourself out in the world and try new things. Make the situation work for you. Do you have a close friend that hosts a holiday party every year?Don't be shy - ask if you can come. I've done it many times, and I've always brought the wine or champagne. Do you know someone else who might be alone? Why don't the two of you go to a nice restaurant? A good friend will appreciate that you want to spend the holiday with her.
My first year alone I couldn't afford much, but I went to the Dollar Store and bought six ornaments and hung them on a plant in my living room. I still have those ornaments and each year, they remind me of how far I have come since those days.
Buy a box of old fashioned Christmas cards and write a holiday letter to everyone you know. Let the world know you are well and happy, and you will be.
Bonnie Moore, 70, is the President and Founder of Golden Girls Network, the only nationwide network that helps mature adults find roommates and access the resources they need to make shared living work. She is also the author of How to Start a Golden Girls Home.