Perhaps you’re unable or unwilling to celebrate the season with family and friends, or want to take a break from group activities. Maybe you have never celebrated any late-December holidays but are soon to find yourself in a ghost town, wondering what to do. Whatever the reason for the season, if you won’t be home for Christmas, this article is for you.

An illustration of TV with the words "The Joy of Solitude" on the screen.If you are new to Canada,remember that Christmas Day is a statutory holiday, meaning most businesses are closed. Also, many business and public institutions will be closed additional days (or even weeks) and have limited hours. Check holiday hours online, or call in advance, and make sure to get your groceries before the stores close for the holiday.

Besides these basics, here are a few things to consider as you plan your solo year-end:

Customize the Experience

This is your time. What kind of time would you like to have? Do you want it to be exciting, relaxing, or would you rather take on extra shifts at work or tackle a project to stay busy? Figure out your holiday preference, and work with it. (But don’t allow yourself to be pressured into taking all the extra work because you “have nothing to do” – you deserve a break too!)

Remember, you’re in good company: many people find themselves alone at this time of year. Many others work through the holiday or simply don’t celebrate. Don’t be afraid to let friends know you’ll be spending the holiday alone. You might be surprised to find that others are in the same boat. If you feel up to it, plan get-togethers and phone calls or video chats with friends and family at a distance.

Beware the Holiday Hype

Being surrounded by manufactured joy can put pressure on everyone. Whether you’re alone or with others, the holiday can be calm and peaceful. Enjoy your “Silent Night,” and leave others to deal with the chaotic jingles. If you’re not feeling it, there’s nothing wrong with getting cozy and taking it easy.

On the other hand, if you enjoy rocking around the Christmas tree and decking the halls, don’t let being alone stop you! Hosting a small party or just having fun by yourself is perfectly acceptable. It’s OK to make things merry and bright and indulge in schmaltzy Christmas specials even when you’re an audience of one.

Reconnect with Nature, and with Yourself

Enjoy some festive solitude. For example, LondonFuse Volunteer Director Allyson Proulx shared her tips for enjoying the coziest season. “My sense of smell is something I indulge during the winter/holiday season. I watch a feel-good movie with a cinnamon stick in a dishpan in the oven, on real low. I take a bath with orange essential oil in the water and frankincense smoke drifting above me. I bundle up and take a walk towards the smell of cedar and pine.”

Enjoy the outdoors with winter walks, see the light displays on London homes and public spaces, or enjoy the city’s free outdoor skating rinks.

If this is a time of spiritual significance for you, this may be a good time to reconnect. Maybe you used to attend  church but don’t anymore, or maybe you’ve never been and are curious. Most churches have Christmas Eve services and are open to the public. Note that this year, COVID restrictions mean limited seating and/or online services.

Think Ahead

Plan your day. Have a plan for your own day, whether Christmas-themed or simply as a way to get through a day when everything is closed, and most people have other plans. Spend time on a hobby, like crafting, make a special dinner for yourself, choose a movie to watch, plan an exercise routine, or go for a walk. Give yourself the gift of something to look forward to.

Watch an unconventional Christmas movie such as Batman Returns, Carol, Die Hard, or Black Christmas: movies set during the season and feature those who spend it alone or lonely.

Help out a friend who is having too much holiday. While spending time with family can be fun, it can also become overwhelming for some. Let friends know you’ll be around if they want to, ahem, get away from the incessant joy.

Some rapid-fire suggestions:

  • Listen to Dolly Parton’s “Hard Candy Christmas” on repeat.
  • Check out books, movies, and music in advance from London Public Libraries.
  • Set yourself a movie marathon (pick a genre and go through them all).
  • Set a goal to stay busy like embarking on a new exercise program, learning something new (a historical period or event, a skill, or something else you’ve always wanted to know more about).

And finally, look ahead to positive changes coming your way and set your intentions for the New Year!

Illustrations by Anne Young.



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