Who's a Holiday Orphan?
Changing Holiday Traditions
For several years now, at every holiday, I muse about holiday orphans - those loners like me, who spend the holiday on their own, for lack of: a spouse/significant other, kids, close family in town, close friends that live within a few miles, friendly neighbors, or any combination thereof.
In my younger days and when I had a car, I made the effort to go to the family gathering at my cousin’s house. Theirs was THE family meeting place for good, home-cooked food and reconnecting with relatives I hadn’t seen in years. It was usually fun while the day lasted. But when I got home, it didn’t seem like a holiday at all. Just another day in the life. That became depressing. So each year, I attended fewer and fewer gatherings. For the past 10 or so years, I haven’t attended any.
At some point I reconciled and became content with spending the holidays on my own. Instead of traveling to someone else’s house to eat, I made my own holiday feasts. If I felt like socializing with family or friends, I'd call them on the phone. But mostly, I took the opportunity of a holiday to catch up on chores and/or projects. (The difference is: Chores are things you HAVE to do. Projects are things you WANT to do! I‘m lucky to have an endless supply of both.) When I tire of either, there are always the “fun” things to do like catching up on email, surfing the internet, playing PC games, re-watching favorite movies, or the ever-popular: re-watching marathon episodes of my favorite TV shows - Twilight Zone and Star Trek.
Depending on the time of year and weather, sometimes I’d venture out for a little sightseeing. Few places are crowded. Everyone’s at home - theirs or a family member’s or a friend’s place. Summer’s a bit different. Lots more people are out and about, especially at local events/attractions. It’s funny to be among them. It’s like being invisible; literally alone in a crowd. It was a bit depressing at first. But then I became fascinated and quite comfortable with it. I can choose to interact or not. I can be a participant or be observer. Realizing that it was MY choice, changing my perspective, made all the difference.
Creating New Holiday Traditions
In 2008, I found a FABULOUS way to spend my holidays, especially the Christmas holidays! I started volunteering at the two biggest holiday parades in Chicago: The Magnificent Mile Lights Event and the State Street Thanksgiving Day parade. These days, there are so many events going on in Chicago that one could easily have something to do every day through New Year's!
One of my friends started hosting an annual Turkey Day holiday brunch for fellow Singleton Friends. But I still make my own feasts.It's nice to come home to familiar comfort food after a long day at the parades.
Though I spend quite a bit of time alone, - holiday or not - I rarely feel lonely. I know that the choice is mine. If I WANT to be with people, I have family and friends who would be more than happy to greet me at their doorstep.
We Holiday Orphans have a unique opportunity to create our own traditions – if we so choose. Happy Holidays, Everyone!