Childless or Childfree, Make Your Own Happy Holidays
It's the week before Thanksgiving 2017, and there's a childless woman in Arizona who isn't looking forward to the holiday. Perhaps her story sounds something like yours.
Abby's brief response, in my option, was textbook. "Choose a different destination each year to visit and learn about", she wrote. Invite some friends or acquaintances to join you at home."
At our house, Andy and I have luxurious memories of hosting Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve dinners with as many as 16 family members and friends. I can get lost in those memories, and that's not really a good thing, now that all of those people are gone. Both family and friends have died, relocated to assisted facilities or moved to another coast. Meanwhile, we're still unaccustomed to today's reality.
(There's a skill to visiting a memory and leaving it the heck alone. I don't quite have it perfected.)
Abby's idea to invite other friends, hasn't worked out for us. Not yet, at least. Parent couples, empty nesters, no-kids couples, and singles without kids have preferred their own ongoing family traditions, sometimes with adult nieces or nephews.
Travel is a thought, but I can't shake the feeling that it's just running away from Truth. We spent New Year's Eve in the Caribbean once, in shorts with hundreds of strangers. I just wanted to be home in PJs. I've always thought the option to be a lazy, self-pampered couch potato is a major part of holiday joy.
Volunteering is something I haven't done, though, and I'll give it a try. I'm guilty of a common mistake, forgetting that holiday planning should start sometime in late summer, while we're still reveling in sunshine with no thoughts of fall.
I believe that for childless-by-chance folk, emotional reactions to the holidays are influenced by age and family interaction, or lack thereof. Also, environments change year to year. Maybe someone else will invite us over. Maybe new friendships will lead to new holiday traditions. That's especially true for NotMoms who don't have a spouse or close partner.
As for Abby, I think she was bested by the commenter who wrote:
"Unrealistic expectations are setting you up for feelings of emptiness at holiday time. Many people suffer through holidays with families full of noisy kids and obnoxious relatives, and they would love to be in your shoes! Plan romantic getaways and see new places with your hubby during the holidays. Be grateful for what you have rather than focusing on what you don't have and allowing unrealistic expectations to detract from your experience of life!"
What advice would you share with Not So Jolly in Arizona?