I’ve been a widow for three years now and the last of my seven children just moved out. For the first time since I was a young, virginal, 25 year-old newlywed I’m alone.
When the toilet clogs and overflows – I throw down the beach towels to stop the flood, lift them, sopping, from the floor and shove them into the washing machine. When the car breaks down, I call AAA. When I want a meal at a restaurant, I bring a book to avoid the stares of pity. When something exciting happens, I turn to Facebook.
My parents have been gone for a long time – Dad for 26 years, Mom for 16. I don’t really remember Dad’s voice, but I can’t forget Mom’s hands, because all I have to do is look at the keyboard and there they are – minus her weekly manicure. My sisters have families of their own. My children have families and lives of their own. It’s hard not to feel like an appendage to their celebrations.
So how does alone do holidays? Some people claim to know. Every magazine article, every therapy workshop, every single’s blog, every pastor’s sermon has a magic cure for being alone that is supposedly foolproof.
Feed the homeless. Spend the night in a shelter. Donate books to a thrift store. Give – get out of your own head – serve.
I beg to differ.
We all should be doing that, all the time. It’s great to serve when God calls, when you know you are impacting lives, when you have the strength and wherewithal to help a fellow human being who doesn’t have either one. Obedience feels wonderful and purposeful. But there’s another important part of being alone that is not considered, let along encouraged in the body of believers.
Celebrate YOU. Do something, extraordinary, joyful for yourself. Do something that only you knows will make you happy. It’s not a sin to spend a little effort to make yourself happy. Something just for you.
So here’s a little series of blogs to get you through the year celebrating holidays alone. Holidays Times One. And the first one – New Year’s Day.
The first day of a new year is full of hope and promise.
If you are a parade-watcher, join the parade. Buy yourself a dozen roses and bury your face in them when a float goes by. Gather petals and make yourself a mini-float with glue and shoe boxes; theme – your dreams for the year. Many parades have Fairy Tale themes. Take an hour and read your favorite Fairy Tales and make a note of how these stories have influenced your life or have embedded your thoughts with expectations.
If you are a football fan, plan your schedule to watch a game. Bet yourself who will win and give yourself a prize if you are right. Make yourself a nice spread, with chips and chili dogs and popcorn. If you are a former cheerleader, clear out a space on your floor to cheer, really cheer, with kicks and cartwheels if necessary. It’s great exercise and really fun to get that rush. Watch as many Bowl games as possible. Drink in the thrill of the win and the pathos of the loss.
If starting the year with a clean slate makes you happy, do it right. Hire a cleaning service for yourself, just this one day, to sweep away Christmas and give New Year’s Day a fresh start.
There is a movement that celebrates picking One Word for the year. You pray and think and listen to come up with your word. Two years ago my word was “Wait.” I created a visual reminder that I pinned on my office wall. Last year the Word changed to “Watch,” a small shift, but one that implied change was happening. This year is more active – “Write.” The waiting and watching are over.
What about resolutions? Buy a year-long calendar (NeuYear.net) and take a long look, or even take a photo of the calendar as a blank canvas, then fill it with events and goals that will make up your year – things you want to accomplish, books you want to read, trips you want to take. At the end of the year, take another photo and celebrate the progress and make that celebration part of your New Year’s Day tradition.
One of my New Year’s Day traditions is to make a photo album of the year before. I’m been doing this for 15 years. During the year I keep a folder on the computer that I fill with the best pictures of the best times. On New Year’s I make a digital scrap book or photo album to catch those moments and capture experiences that meant the most to me.
My family teases me about my photos of inanimate objects – a pretty place setting or centerpiece, a garden about to yield tomatoes or broccoli, my Christmas lights ir sunsets. Go ahead and laugh. These photos bring me joy and help me feel creative and happy and proves that there is pleasure in my surroundings — it’s not only about visitors and grandchildren at this time in my life. It’s fine to celebrate what you find beautiful as well.
The list is endless and can contain all the secret joys and giddy pleasures that are yours and yours alone – a Lord of the Rings marathon, a new recipe, a fresh, unopened book, trying something you’ve never tried. Forgiving. Moving on.
Own it. Make it yours. Let yourself celebrate. Happy New Year.