But since many people have found themselves in this situation, and will continue to be, lots of great advice has been gathered in order to spend a very merry Christmas alone.
What is the Christmas spirit?
While Christmas obviously has a root in religious practices, the holiday has persisted in many families due to the values that it teaches: showing gratitude, spreading love, happiness and acceptance as well as appreciation for our loved ones. It is a ritual that allows to express togetherness. In that way, it makes sense that families would celebrate such a tradition. In an ideal world, this is a great set of values to share within a family.
The reality is: most families are picture-perfect in that way, especially for queer folks. Despite the emphasis on these values that should show acceptance of one another, many queer people still struggle being themselves in the presence of their family. As a result, it is a holiday that reminds many of trauma, exclusion, neglect and causing much anxiety every holiday season.
Historically, queer folks are often outcasted from the traditional narrative, and this includes Christmas rituals. The great thing about rituals though: they can always be reclaimed, a liberating concept that minorities have been undertaking for a long time, in order to create their own belonging. While relations with blood family may be too tensed to revisit, this can be an opportunity to involve your chosen family into the Christmas spirit.
Your chosen family is a carefully selected set of individuals that you consider to be family, akin to blood relations. In queer circles, this chosen family may be even stronger than blood related family, as it reunites like-minded individuals that provide safety. It’s a way to preserve the essence of having a family, when that may have been ruined by blood family.
Setting up some holiday festivities with your chosen family is a great way to have a safe but fulfilling Christmas. It may even allow for some healing around this time of year, that is quite hard on a lot of people, especially when struggling with blood family interactions.
If you’re still looking for your chosen family, there are generally some queer-themed events in cities during the holiday season, since many unfortunately can’t safely go to their home. This can be a great opportunity to meet others that have also struggled with this.
Spending Christmas alone
But maybe, relying on other people’s presence for this day isn’t feasible. You know, or may prefer, to be alone on Christmas. You can still show yourself the spirit of appreciation that Christmas entails. At the end of the day, it is also rewarding to show yourself the ways that you should be appreciated.
While it is okay and encouraged to allow your feelings to be felt, a Christmas alone does not have to mean shame and sadness. All of the values that Christmas is supposed to signify does not require other people to valide them. You can show yourself love, appreciation and gratitude for the life you’ve been living, as best as you can. This may be hard for some people to sit with, but it is worth mentioning that you can have a happy Christmas alone.
After all, queer folks are rarely given space to celebrate ourselves. With the constant exclusion, or fear thereof, or the recipient of discriminatory practices, the holiday traditions are simply not safe spaces for queer folks. Being alone allows you to avoid the not-belonging, on a holiday based around togetherness.
How to enjoy Christmas alone?
So what are some Christmas rituals that you could instill for yourself alone? The most important part in feeling that holiday spirit, especially alone, is to plan it. Knowing that you have a selection of activities that you want to do and preparing them in advance will gradually get you more excited when the day of comes around.
Here’s a couple of ideas:
1. Volunteer: there are usually volunteering opportunities around the holiday seasons to give back to communities that suffer a lot from precarity or loneliness. You may find it particularly rewarding to share the holiday spirit with those who need it most. This may be working at a shelter, a nursing home or a soup kitchen. They always need more people on the holiday itself, as many others will spend it elsewhere. Check out some local events.
2. Traveling: spend your time in another town/city. A road trip somewhere will harness the feeling of wonder in a new place, and will still give you something to talk about when people asked how your Christmas went.
3. At home: what if you just want to stay cozy at home? Plenty of new traditions can be created: a Christmas dinner, festive decorations, setting up Christmas lights and a fun tree, watching holidays flicks on your couch and giving yourself gifts. Place an importance onto self-care and relaxation practices that work for you and going a bit overboard with them, such as taking a bath, face masks, lighting candles and getting cozy under thick fluffy blankets. But it can also be really non-traditional: have a drag show in your living room, karaoke session of your favorite songs, and anything else that makes you joyful!
In the end, a real perk of spending Christmas alone is that you can skip all the parts you don’t like (think of all the family drama you can avoid) and only keep the ones you liked most. There will be no one to judge you or make you feel unwelcomed. Spending Christmas alone can be a tradition of showing yourself appreciation and self-care, despite not having others to validate the efforts.