Telling your friends that you're planning on spending Christmas alone gets roughly the same reaction as telling your friends that you're planning on quitting your job to devote yourself to writing poetry in your own tears full-time: people are concerned. They're nervous for your well-being, and awash in pity for you. They want to know if something is wrong.
As a veteran solo Christmas-er, I appreciate the pity (it's usually good for a free beer or two) and am touched by the concern and offers to join friends' family Christmas celebrations. But there's a secret than none of the folks offering you a spot at their aunt's boyfriend's college roommate's Christmas dinner know: for some of us, spending Christmas alone is awesome.
Yes, sometimes a Christmas spent alone is a sign that something went wrong — a family conflict, a sudden illness, travel plans ruined at the last second. But even in many of those scenarios, a Christmas alone doesn't have to be a day dedicated to self-pity, depression, and sadly eating peppermint bark in the bathtub. You can instead dedicate the day to fun, freedom, and joyfully eating peppermint bark in the bathtub, because solo Christmases can be surprisingly great. As a half-Jewish, half-Catholic only child who recently became part of a large blended family, I have done every possible version of celebrating the holidays, and the ones I spent rolling solo, watching movies and strolling around the decorated corners of my city, remain some of my favorite.
Solo Christmas is not for everyone, of course — some people really will end up writing poetry in their own tears if they have to spend the holidays alone. But you don't have to be a total introvert to appreciate a break from preparing for a stressful "perfect" family dinner, fighting with your relatives, or having to watch Mister Popper's Penguins nine times in a row because your four-year-old cousins are over. A solo Christmas can present a refreshingly chill approach to an often-hectic holiday.
So, if you're spending today alone, don't feel bad: here are five reasons that you may well be having a better Christmas than all your friends who are donning ugly sweaters with their parents right now.
1. You Can Make New Friends
The going line on Christmas is that it's a time for families to come together and be nice to each other (though anyone who's watched their relatives get into it after dipping too heavily into the eggnog can tell you that that is debatable). But Christmas actually brings together all sorts of people, including complete strangers. In my experience, Christmas turns New York City from a place where strangers will not make eye contact with you if you fall on your face in a subway car, into a place where strangers will stop by your table at dinner, chat with you while waiting on line for the movies, or discuss their lives very earnestly with you in a bar. I met one of my best friends in the world at a party held on Christmas day seven years ago, in fact. Christmas doesn't have to just be about reaffirming what you have in common with your family; it can be about finding what you have in common with strangers too, and that can be more moving and beautiful than yet another family screening of It's a Wonderful Life.
2. You Can Make New "Friends"
I haven't done this for many years now, but I have to say: Christmas is an excellent time to get laid. Anyone at a bar on Christmas evening already has something in common with you, and watching National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation or the old Claymation Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer movie on a bar TV is an instant bonding activity. Add in the fact that people are feeling emotionally open and giving, and stuff just...happens. Fun stuff. Stuff that couldn't happen if you were eating one of those giant tins of caramel corn with your cousins at home.
3. You Can Actually Relax
For many people, the few days around Christmas are the only vacation days we get off work for the whole year. But a lot of the time, that "vacation" doesn't end up feeling particularly relaxing — especially if, say, you're sleeping on the couch because you have 19 relatives visiting, you have to wake up at 7 A.M. every day to help with holiday chores, and no one will give you even ten minutes of privacy to think or masturbate. Spending Christmas alone can turn a Christmas vacation into an actual vacation — you know, the kind that's based around resting, relaxing, and not exerting yourself in any way, rather than running yourself ragged trying to get all your holiday "traditions" done in time.
4. You Can Do Whatever You Want, Instead of What You Think You "Should" Do
Speaking of stressful holiday traditions — a Christmas spent alone is a great time to chuck all of your preconceived notions, and concern yourself with doing what you actually feel like doing, instead of doing what you think you need to do to have the "perfect" Christmas. Do you hate your family tradition of watching A Charlie Brown Christmas? Well, this year you can watch Bad Santa instead. Hell, watch the Christmas episode of the dark British dystopian sci-fi show Black Mirror. Or don't watch anything Christmas-y at all! Give yourself the gift of nudity and watch all the parts of Sons of Anarchy where you can see Charlie Hunnam's butt. Go for a walk — if you're in the northeast, we're having a phenomenal warm snap today. Eat whatever you feel like eating. Listen to whatever music you feel like listening to. You don't have to impress anyone — you just have to do what you feel like doing, which will make you feel a whole lot merrier in the end.
5. You Can Re-Assess What (If Anything) Christmas Really Means to You
You already know what Christmas means to your family — maybe it's about celebrating the birth of Jesus; maybe it's about presents; maybe it's about drinking too much white wine and arguing about things that happened in 1992. But this is your chance to figure out what Christmas actually means to you. If you're alone because you're estranged from your family, today is a great time to figure out how to make this holiday about the wonderful life you've created for yourself and are proud of, instead of just feeling "less than" folks who are spending time with their parents over the holidays. If you're alone for other reasons, you can still take this breather from your family to figure out what you like about the holiday, or if you like it at all. I like Christmas as an aesthetic experience — I'll go miles out of my way to see a beautifully decorated house — but in my larger family, Christmas is a family holiday, where the idea of driving across town to see a house covered in light-up reindeer instead of spending more time at a family dinner is absurd. By doing Christmas alone, I get my light-up reindeer, my family members get to spend 19 straight hours together, and I get to hang out with them during a lower-pressure time of the year. In fact, a lot of the time, it's better and more fun to hang around your folks during a less stressful time of year, where you can get more quality time. After all, you're still a family 365 days a year — and taking this one day out to paint your nails and watch Scrooged by yourself won't change that. Images: Hughes Entertainment/ 20th Century Fox Film, Giphy (6)