Home alone for Christmas?
Sadly double the number of people as normal are expecting to spend Christmas alone. If this includes you, Louise Morse offers some suggestions for making the day a blessing
Image | Faizan | Unsplash
For believers, the epitome of Christmas is worship, celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. It’s the centre of our thoughts and preparations and everything else – the gifts and the Christmas tree – are peripheral. Our audio backdrop is full of Christmas carols like Silent Night and Little Town of Bethlehem, all underlining the church notices and billboards that declare ‘Jesus is the reason for the Season.’
Another Christmas peripheral is the Great Annual Get-Together. Family and friends travel thousands of miles for it – it is ‘Holy ground’, says a line in Chris Rea’s Driving Home for Christmas. It’s the ‘most wonderful day of the year,’ says another song. The Great Annual Get-Together means more than we realise, because being with friends and family strengthens our sense of belonging and our worth to one another.
Sadly, double the number of people as normal are expecting to spend Christmas alone. A solitary Christmas is more likely among those age 65 and over, with as many as 1.7 million people saying they expect to be alone on Christmas Day, according to a survey by The Observer. If this includes you, there are things you can do to make it a blessing.
First of all, check your thinking: get a perspective on it. Millions of others are doing the same, and for many it’s the way circumstances have unfolded this year. See it as a special time when you can be good to yourself – give yourself a special treat.
Remind yourself of your worth: If you feel forgotten, write appropriate Scriptures on post-it notes and stick them where you will see it on Christmas morning, like John 3:16, and Jeremiah 31:3. You will have more ‘favourites’.
Volunteer with a local charity. All over the country volunteers will be helping others on Christmas day. Some will be cooking and serving Christmas dinners. Find out what is happening in your area, and if you are able, volunteer. You don’t have to commit the whole day, and you will find company and a rich reward!
Check with your church pastoral team if anything is happening that you would like to be part of. For example, has your church arranged to telephone people it knows will be spending Christmas day alone? A few years ago, a 94-year-old lady whose husband had died earlier that year spent much of the day playing over and over again her answerphone message, just to be able to hear a human voice.
Make a note of helplines you can call to have a chat with a real human voice, if you are short of friends or relatives you can call. Premier’s Helpline telephone is 0300 111 0101 and Esther Rantzen’s Silver Line is 0800 4 70 80 90. There may be local organisations with Christmas Day helplines, too.
Use the technology. Telephone your loved ones, make the most of the technology. If you have a smartphone you can use different apps on it to ‘face -time’ – that is, to see them in the moment. WhatsApp is easy to use and you can even make calls abroad free of charge, and on a Tablet or iPad or computer you can talk over Skype or Zoom. Families regularly keep in touch this way.
Write a list of things to give thanks for during the past year. Research shows that feelings of gratitude have a physical as well as an emotional effect. Put simply – being grateful makes you feel good!
Enjoy the church service. The Covid lockdown has seen the emergence of hundreds of online services, and if you can’t get to your church or it is not open, there will be a host of church services on-line to choose from, as well as services on radio and TV.
Have a special Christmas meal. If you don’t want to cook, you can buy a Christmas meal from a supermarket or perhaps from a restaurant a couple of days earlier. Arrange a cheerful table setting.
Go for a walk, weather permitting. A brisk walk in the fresh air is good for your brain, your body, and your soul! Be attentive to the beauty of His creation, all around you.
Listen to the Queen’s Speech! Queen Elizabeth includes in her Christmas day talks uplifting messages of hope, and places Christmas Day within its faith context.
Make space to worship. For many, Christmas Day would not be complete without Christmas Carols from King’s College, Cambridge.
Finally, make sure your home is well lit and that you are warm! There are few simpler things than being warm and bright to cheer you up a bit! Also, being warm can be plenty of layers/blankets and hot water bottles if the heating is a bit expensive.
And remember, the best Christmas Day here is nothing compared to the day when we will celebrate the Wedding Feast with Jesus Christ. Revelation 19: 7-10. Truly, the best is yet to be!
Louise Morse is author of several books on old age, a cognitive behavioural therapist, a speaker and social commentator, and media and external relations manager with the 213 year old Christian charity supporting the elderly, the Pilgrims’ Friend Society
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