It's a funny thing, the Christmas season. It's such a glaringly brilliant time, full of happy music and bright lights with everyone seemingly in a more positive mood. It's the time of year I have always looked forward to most. As a Christmas enthusiast, I'm the kind of person who listens to "Jingle Bell Rock" in July and actually admits it. When November hits, I'm one of those annoying people who just needs to express that my favourite season is now in full swing.
But this year has been different. It's been sobering in the sense that I just can't get high on the holidays like I used to, no matter how hard I try. And even though I know why, it has been deflating and partially soul crushing. It's been exactly the opposite of what Christmas is all about; it's been lonely.
This year has been hard and this season has been, perhaps, even harder. I try to smile, I try to enjoy the festivities, I try to care but part of me keeps wondering why? I am single, I have no kids, my extended family is out of town, and my Mom isn't here to remind me what Christmas is all about. She isn't here to help me decorate or to bake with or laugh with. She isn't here and so I wonder what the point of celebrating is.
I think to myself that maybe being in a relationship would help. I think that having someone to cuddle up with and watch 'Home Alone' with would be nice. I remember decorating our new house all those years ago with my ex-husband and I think about how much fun we had. I wonder why life had to deal me this hand and take it all away. And in the middle of trying to find Christmas in my heart, again I am silenced and forced to think about how alone I now am.
The truth behind being lonely at Christmas is realizing that I'm not the only one who feels this way. That in my many years of naïve holiday celebration in years past, I never noticed the lonely hearts that walked among me. Not the blatantly obvious ones who I've volunteered for and helped so many times, but the souls who we think are fine, the people who are going through the motions giving us no reason to believe they are sad or alone.
As I continue to search for Christmas in my heart, I also have begun to allow myself to be less hard on my absentee spirit. Instead of trying to be extra jolly and super jubilant, I've started to come to terms with the fact that maybe it's okay not to be "on" this Christmas. Maybe it's okay to feel sad when everyone else is seemingly on their Holiday 'A' Game because maybe, in reality, all of us feel a little pang of loneliness during this time of year. What I'm beginning to learn is that sometimes, it's just not as necessary to hide it in garland and lights and pretend. Sometimes, we can be okay without all the glitter and instead with just feeling Christmas in our hearts and having hope that next Christmas won't be as lonely.
This post is part of Common Grief, a Healthy Living editorial initiative. Grief is an inevitable part of life, but that doesn't make navigating it any easier. The deep sorrow that accompanies the death of a loved one, the end of a marriage or even moving far away from home, is real. But while grief is universal, we all grieve differently. So we started Common Grief to help learn from each other. Let's talk about living with loss. If you have a story you'd like to share, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.