The Specific Pleasures of Spending a Holiday Alone

Imagine a glorious day when you can do whatever you want by yourself in your own home. You can get out of bed, or not. You can don a three-piece corduroy suit, a flaming yellow bikini and a neon pink wig, or wear nothing at all. You can blast whatever music you wish. You can watch the worst films and cackle aloud. You can watch the finest episodes of television and weep openly. You can curl up in a ball in your closet and whisper sweet nothings to your out-of-season garments. You can have a tea party with your imaginary friends.

Nobody bothers you. Nobody talks to you. Nobody expects you to explain why you got divorced, got married, got knocked up, never had kids, or quit your job.

This is the bliss of a holiday spent by oneself.

I like holidays. I like my family, mostly. I like seasonal carbohydrates. I like candles, many religious traditions, and various cinnamon-based desserts. Despite my avowed love for Friendsgiving, I plan to see my loved ones this Thanksgiving and Christmas, in various locations. And I'm looking forward to it! I already spent too much money on gifts from Etsy.

But I've spent holidays alone, particularly when I lived across the country from most of my family and didn't want to schlep through the sky for a few stressful days. And whether you refrain from socializing by choice or by circumstance, I hope you'll take a moment to consider the sweeter aspects of a solo holiday.

You can make your own schedule.

Wake up when you want. Eat when you want. Nap when you want. Eat again when you want. Sleep when you want. Wake up and eat again when you want. Go to bed again when you want. No need to please the parent who exerts control by waking everybody in the household up at a certain time! No need to feign interest in the terrible cousin who keeps everybody up late telling stories that suck! Your time is your own. That alone is a gift.

You can spend quality time with your pets.

You know who isn't homophobic, racist, or overly fond of bourbon? Your cat! Or your dog. Or, you know, your goat. Your pets are wonderful creatures who don't even know it's a holiday. To them, every day is the same: a chance to eat, sleep, possibly bond with you, and possibly ignore you, depending on their little animal moods. How relaxing.

You can watch whatever you want.

No wrangling with a bevy of relatives to agree upon a holiday movie through which half of them will talk (or sleep). It's all you, baby! If a Lars von Trier film festival is your idea of a Christmas celebration, ain't nobody gonna stop you! Also, if that's the case, you definitely need therapy, which is the best gift you can give yourself. Which reminds me…

You can do your favorite self-care things.

Take a bath for an hour without anybody else banging on the bathroom door! Read the self-help book that prepares you to deal with the people you don't have to deal with today! Hit as many online 12-step meetings as you want! Put on a moisturizing face mask and make a vision board from old magazines! Do a bunch of mini-meditation sessions in between bouts of gentle stretching! Pray! Drink lots of water! Your therapist is probably off from work, so download an audiobook by America's therapist, Oprah!

You can catch up on your favorite podcasts.

Surely you haven't heard all the 2018 episodes of Las Culturistas with Matt Rogers and Bowen Yang yet. You need to correct that. I'm sure other podcasts exist, and you can probably listen to those, too.

You can shop for a good cause.

Online retail therapy feels better when it actually heps somebody in need. You can assist families this holiday season by purchasing items off wishlists from organizations like Miry's List, which helps refugee families resettle in the United States. Or see if a charity you love sells merchandise, and then go buy some of it.

You can volunteer with an organization you love.

If you're willing to spend part of your holiday with other humans, why not assist folks in need by working at a food pantry, soup kitchen, or other event? Or if humans aren't your favorite, perhaps the local animal shelter or rescue nonprofit needs folks to fill in for regular staff. Also, you can do plenty of service on a remote basis — just reach out to your favorite registered nonprofit or mutual aid group and ask how you can help them organize their data, make phone calls, or do other remote tasks.

The common theme running through all these possibilities? Choice. You get to own your holiday and remember your own agency and autonomy. It's not selfish to skip out on group celebrations. Taking care of yourself can make you a healthier individual and a better part of your community. And that feels better than doing anything simply out of obligation. So RSVP no, thanks, and get ready to recharge, replenish, and enjoy your holiday your way.

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