I write this now that I am living back in my hometown, and with a 6 month old baby in tow. While this means I am always surrounded by family, there was a time I lived away from loved ones and experienced holiday loneliness.
This made the holidays so much harder, since there were times I couldn’t come back home. Living far from loved ones is difficult, and holiday loneliness is all but inevitable.
When we lived away from family, my husband was a pediatric resident at the children’s hospital in Phoenix. And I was a graduate student at ASU. His work schedule sometimes could not allow for us to come back for the holidays. I agonized since I really wanted to see my family, but leaving my poor husband by himself during the holidays broke my heart as well. So I stayed in Phoenix. But as I look back, I realize I grew so much during these times, and I learned to find joy in solitude. Now, I do recognize that with children, lonely holidays are a bit different. But I wanted to share a few things I did to help during those lonely holidays:
1. Get out of the house.
Sometimes when you are lonely, getting out of the house is not too enticing. And now that I have my son, it can be even harder to get out with him. But once you do, it is like a breath of fresh air because it is so easy to mope at home. Since I didn’t have kids then, I would go to a coffee shop nearby to read. If I had my son then, I probably would have gone to the aquarium. Maybe I would have checked out some fun event like a farmer’s market. But even a simple walk around the neighborhood or a nearby park will help.
2. Find a community to be a part of.
It was so wonderful to go to church during these periodic lonely holidays. Communities like church or mom’s groups help to show you that you do have people around who care about you. When my church family saw I was going solo during a holiday, they would invite me to their place. It can be hard with little ones, I know, especially if they aren’t used to going to things like a religious service. Investigate the church’s childcare options by visiting their website or calling and asking. It is definitely worth a try!
3. Invite people to your house!
This is the other side of the coin from the last point. I used to get a bit hurt if no one invited me to spend a holiday. But one year I thought, “Well, how about I invited people to my house?” We can strengthen the friendships we make at places of community, like church or mom’s groups, through spending time breaking bread in our own homes.
Happy holidays to you, whether you’re with people you love or not. How do you beat holiday loneliness? How do you make a place feel like home that’s not your home?