Spending the holidays alone — and that’s okay
By Taylor Charlebois, Contributor
The holidays are a joyous and merry time of the year. Everyone is rife with excitement and anticipation. Families get together, people exchange gifts, share in the good times, drink a ton of booze — the Christmas spirit, as they say.
But not me.
My family, the entirety of them — my nanny (grandmother), my aunts, uncles, brother and parental unit — are all living in Montreal and Ottawa with a few family stragglers in Toronto. But for me, I’m the ultimate straggler of them all — living here in Calgary, 3,613 kilometers away.
I made the move to Calgary eight years ago and since then I’ve only been home once for Christmas. At first, it was difficult to make things work financially. I worked as a bartender and found trouble getting the time off. As well, an $800 plane ticket was a tough pill to swallow.
So, on Dec. 25 I would stay home. I’d always treat myself to some great grocery haul before everything closed. I’d stay in, watch my favorite movies, drink wine, eat a ton of food and it was nice.
There was something romantic about it — I can’t quite say what it was. I felt as though for the first time in my life, I had control over what I did. This was monumental to me because for all of my life until I moved, I was always being told what to do during the holidays.
“We’re going to nanny’s,” or, “We’re going to your uncle’s,” or, “Everyone is coming here.” It was always what my family had planned and I think subconsciously, that bothered me.
So for the first few years of being on my own, I’d just stay home. Fast forward a few years, I started to make more money, got a better job, made friends, and even at one point got cozy with a significant other and their family. Even with the invitations to spend the holidays with friends and their families, or my partner’s family — I’d still opt out and choose to stay in and indulge in my little traditions.
To be honest though, what beats watching a full length Lord of the Rings movie marathon on a cool and crisp Christmas Eve? In my books, nothing is better than that. When I was young, we had this cute little thing on the 24th where we’d take our dogs on a big walk after dinner to burn off some of the calories we had just eaten. To our young little hearts’ surprise, every time we’d return it was as though Santa had made his visit.
Maybe I’m not very nostalgic, or maybe I’m just not that familial of a person. I’ve always been kind of a loner, enjoying the solitude of staying in on a Friday night instead of going out and partying for the weekend.
It’s not a plane ticket that deters me from going home for Christmas. It’s not the inability to get time off work, or that I have better things to do. It’s that sometimes we need to follow our own traditions and recharge our batteries in our own unique and quirky ways.
Sometimes I think being alone is just a safe place for me. I hope that all the people who may be forced to spend Christmas alone due to the ongoing pandemic find some solace in that they’re not alone in this — and that’s okay.