• Carolyn Brouillard

I’m Spending Christmas Alone—On Purpose

Updated: Jan 4, 2019

It’s that time of the year when small talk with colleagues and strangers turns to plans for the holidays.

“What are you doing for the holidays? You going to see family?”

“My husband is, but I’ve decided to stay home with the dog this year.”

Queue the look of pity or concern. I get it. There can be a few not-so-pleasant reasons why someone would choose to spend Christmas alone, like divorce, estrangement, or deaths in the family. Fortunately none of those are true in my case.

And maybe there are some people who think I’m selfish or have no holiday spirit. Again, nope. By taking this time, I hope to be more generous with my time as 2019 unfolds. And I’ve been humming along to some Christmas tunes as I wait in line at the grocery store. I even put up a wreath and a few sparkly things around the house. Rest assured, I’m not the Grinch.

I just saw an opportunity to take a few days for myself and I grabbed it. That is my gift to myself this year. While my husband battles the holiday crowds at the airport, I will be at home with three whole days to myself.

The prospect makes me giddy. I can see the brochure for my at-home retreat in my mind…Wake up at your leisure and enjoy cuddles from the lovable house dog. Treat yourself to a gourmet breakfast or a bowl of oatmeal—you decide! Enjoy hours of quiet time to read, write, meditate, or explore our extensive library of movies courtesy of Netflix. If you are feeling more active, test out the exercise equipment in the lower level that has been patiently awaiting your return.

Sounds pretty nice, right? Some people will probably still feel sad for me that I won’t be with family on the holiday. But to me, what is sadder is that it takes Jesus being born for me to get a day of total self-care.

So often we are running from one thing to the next, all the while buried in our phones, and stressing about the next things we have to do. I feel like I am always rushing and trying to cram as much as I can into the shortest amount of time possible, in order to free up a little time for myself to do the things I want to do. Ruthless efficiency is how I achieve some semblance of work-life balance.

But by the time I sit down to enjoy my free time, I’m usually already fried and the thought of more time in front of the computer screen fills me with dread. Whatever creative aspirations I had hold up their hands saying, “You know what? We’ll do this another time.”

But what if that time doesn’t come? Or if it comes attached to a feeling of guilt about all the other things that need tending to? No more. I’m going to use my three days of peace and quiet to set my intentions for the coming year and put a plan in place for doing more of what I love in 2019.

Part of that means building self-care into my week, just like I schedule appointments or meetings. I want to recommit to my meditation practice. I want to build in time to write for myself (not my employers) every day and move in the direction of my dreams, even if only for thirty minutes. I want to spend time learning and experiencing new things. And I guess I should figure out an exercise routine that has a chance of surviving.

So while most of the country is watching kids open presents and scurrying around the kitchen, I will be taking the first steps to creating the life I want in 2019. That is a gift I won’t be returning.

Originally published on Medium.com

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