A few years ago, I spent Christmas alone. It was weird. Here’s the vague retelling of the story.
It’s not that you want to be by yourself on Christmas. You just are.
The year and months and weeks and days compress, leaving you without time or money or wherewithal to make a plan, and you find yourself alone on Christmas. This isn’t what you had planned for yourself. You wanted to spend the day with other people but somehow you’re alone, sitting next to a Christmas tree, thinking about drinking a glass of wine, staring across a very empty room on a very cold morning that could be any morning.
It’s weird, Christmas alone. The solitariness of it all isn’t as jarring as the silence. It’s a distinct, sad silence. There is an anti-magic to this silence as it soundlessly breaks the spell of the holidays. Worse than any child discovering the truth about Santa, a Christmas morning by yourself unlocks an unfortunate truth that many people live: the happiest, warmest, most loving day of the year can be spent without saying a single thing, with you looking at a wall, sad, with all the decoration and affects of the holiday without all the bodies you are supposed to spend the day with.
You think about crying but you don’t. You just sit. Is this depression? It might be.
You get messages from friends relaying good tidings. You text back smiles, holiday greetings. You only tell one friend about your Christmas status. You let large gaps of time linger between each message. You enjoy the sudden melancholia on such a happy, silent day. You embrace it. You don’t dwell or spiral into sadness but you stare back at it and enjoy the stillness as much as you can without breaking.
A dread settles in. Will this be every Christmas? Did the running away of time and energy suck the life out of Christmas for you forever? You don’t know, you feign concern, but you continue to stare into the blankness from a couch and count all the people who didn’t offer plans to you (not that they were obligated to).
You don’t even open a gift. You didn’t get any gifts to open this day. All the gifts you got from friends and family were mailed and opened immediately, days before. Now, on the holiday, there’s nothing to do. Do you watch a sad movie? Do you make a miniature holiday feast? Do you go for a walk and tell people “Merry Christmas!”? What do you do?
By the day’s end, you make a pizza. You put on a horror movie. You think about how you don’t want this to happen again. You return to all the people who this happens to, repeatedly, and wonder if there will be a day when they can all get together and rid themselves of lonely Christmases. That day will come.
But if someone wants to be alone on Christmas? That’s fine too. You get it. You’ve been there. It’s strange and still and a singular holiday experience.