Alone for the Holidays

Thriving through Christmas alone

Last night, I had to speak at my husband’s employee meeting about the possibility of spending Christmas alone.

Before leaving to go to the military Family Readiness Group meeting, I glanced the meeting slides sent to me via email. On the list was my name. I paused for a moment. Maybe that was an accident. Then I took a breath and thought my many years as a military spouse can be of value to newer spouse. It is true I have spent many holidays with just my son; however, this was the very first year that I have spent the holiday season alone, solo, unaccompanied, just me, myself and I.

I sat at my office desk.  I glanced over at a book that I am planning on reading “How Successful People Grow” by John C. Maxwell. I remembered thumbing through the chapters.  I even skimmed through chapter eight called, “How to turn Negative into Positives.” I opened the book to pages I had marked and read.

  1. Everyone Has Them
  2. No One Like Them

Then skimmed to the next list. I read.

My Pain File

  1. The Pain of Inexperience
  2. The Pain of Incompetence

Next, I jump to page 75.  I read a list.

Define the problem

Understand your emotion

Articulate the lesson

Identify a desired change

Brainstorm numerous pathways

Receive others’ input

Implement a course of action

That’s it! Perfectly stated in black and white. Now, I have no reason to give a sappy story or regurgitate one of those clichés’ one liners like: put on your big girl panties, grow up buttercup, suck it up and drive on. Nope, all that is a waste of breath. Going into any situation we all know what we should do, but no one is willing to give us the tools on how to deal with the situation. Except for books.  Bibliotherapy has been my life line. Many of the new generations will Google, Pinterest, Tweet, Instagram, Facebook, group chat, but few will actually go grab a book and read.

At the meeting, I kept this small chapter book hidden in the side pocket carrying bag of my service dog’s. I mingled with others. I played with the kids. Then the meeting was called to order. The commander got up to speak. Stating how the soldiers may or may not make it home for the holidays.

The Chaplin spoke briefly. Then I was called up by the Lieutenant. I reached for the book, “How Successful People Grow.”

I stood up. I held up the book. “I just want to say something about this book that I have been meaning to read. I have read very similar things in many other books. As you go through this holiday season, alone waiting on your solider try to make the best of the situation.  Take this time to grow. This book gives light on how to do that.”

Then I read aloud, “How to turn Negative into Positives.”

“I am not here to endorse this book. I am just saying take this time make special one-on-one memories with your child or children, or learn a new hobby, tackle a task, read a book, understand a new concept or find yourself.  I have been married for many years. I wish that to all of you. This time alone is few and unwanted but make the best of it. Here is a list of how to get started.”

Then I mumbled off one of Maxwell’s list. I looked into the eyes of a young spouse who seemed a little dismayed. I spoke, “I am not saying you have to do this alone. What I am saying it can make time better spent if you invest in yourself. If you don’t want to grab a book then call Military One Source, talk to counselor, talk to a Chaplin or talk to a friend.  When you feel down and not like getting out do it anyways. Take a drive around the neighborhood to look at lights. Visit the shopping malls to see the decorations. Go to a concert. Just make the best of the time you have.”

Then I sat down.

Throughout the remainder of the meeting speakers built off what I had read. It is sad to note but millions will be spending the holidays alone. Sometimes it can be military related, work related, illness, family feud, weather or financial reasons that keep us from being with our families. No matter the reason that you are alone for the season remind yourself that only you can make the best of a bad situation.

Decorating your home may feel pointless if you can not open your home to family, but that is a very narrow perspective. I find so much joy in driving around the neighborhoods looking at the holiday lights. Take a moment, think about how your positive reaction can influence others. Make the best of this holiday!


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