The Christmas Mist – Alone on Christmas Day

December is on its way. You are all in the countdown until Christmas. I can hear you all wrapping and plotting. Writing lists and checking off names. Putting up Christmas Trees. Rediscovering  decorations. I know you are thinking about what you will eat and who will be at the table. You will wonder whether your present is the right one and maybe what you might receive. You will think about the music and what wine to serve. Christmas will be a delightful focus for you in the month ahead. 

But not for me. You see I don’t have the Christmas spirit. I don’t know where it went. Well actually I do know where it went.  I am quite prepared for a blinding silence as you read this. That hauled in breath. I know it is your favorite season.   But I need to get this said. I need to get these words out of the way if you like.  I am not good with Christmas.  Our John calls me the Grinch. But that is OK because it means I don’t have to explain or pretend to behave any differently. And really it is hard to understand. I will try to explain it to YOU though, why my heart elevates to an unreachable place at Christmas. Why my soul becomes a watcher. Why I go into a hiatus. A waiting time. A flux.

When my children were small their father and I separated, then divorced. I was in my late twenties. I had five live children. My own mother had already died, my own family dispersed. Every year after that, for fourteen years actually, I spent Christmas alone.  My children went to have Christmas with their beloved Grandmother. Their fathers mother. She was a wonderful person, she adored her grandchildren. She died a year ago and I know my children will miss her terribly this Christmas. Every single summer they would travel almost to the top of New Zealand with their father and have Christmas with Oma and Opa.  This was their tradition.  I am deeply grateful that we ensured that they were with her each year. My kids and I are very close. We kind of grew up together.  They understand this Christmas thing.  We did the right thing at Christmas. 

Now please don’t get me wrong. I was not a sorry orphan at Christmas.  I woke up alone on Christmas morning but I had friends to visit, usually for an early breakfast. Then they would go to their families for lunch, (twice I was even kidnapped to go to their parental homes with them but it was not right because my aloneness followed me like a silent cat, I was hopeless) so turning down all their kind offers to accompany them, I would proceed to my  project. I always set myself a Christmas Day Project. I had a wonderful darkroom in an old walk-in safe in a very old abandoned railways workshop right beside the sea.  It was an enormous mystery of a  space. So I  would take my dog and work in there.  Just close the door and be gone for hours. With my antique enlarger and my rickity timer with its loud click, click.  Darkrooms are perfect for absenting yourself. Time means nothing in a darkroom. 

When I came up for air (literally) I would go home smelling of fixer, wet black and white prints drying on a towel on the back seat of my family sized station wagon and I would make my Christmas lunch. I always ate the same thing. For my Christmas Dinner every Christmas, I had fillet steak and mashed potatoes with gravy (made with Marmite of course) and a salad.  For years I rented the movie Breakfast at Tiffanys. Every year I would pour myself a glass of champagne, sit on the couch, put my bare feet up on the old  scarred science classroom coffee table with fifty year old rude words carved into it,  all the windows open to the day  and eat my fillet steak and mashed potatoes with gallons of  gravy and say Holly Golightly’s lines for her with my mouth full. I know this sounds a bit sad but really it was not.   My kids were having a great time. They would spend the whole afternoon at the beach with their grandparents, cousins and family. They always did. They were not with me so I was with myself. I was still. Does this make any sense? No-one bothers you on Christmas day. Stillness and aloneness are allowed.

Later that day in the lovely warm Christmas evening I would take my three legged black dog whose name was Marzellet Mazout the Marzipan Kid and we would go for a walk. A really long walk. No-one is on the roads at Christmas, all the shops are closed. All the cars are gone. On Christmas afternoon New Zealand goes to the beach, so the coastal town  became my own town.  There was a magical Christmas hush that I used to believe was my consolation prize. This massive empty moment, when you long for your children’s voices but know that they are well and loved.  Not being all together is OK. My aloneness was OK.  I walked. Time ceased to matter. The endless clatter in my head gentled. 

But along the way I lost the day. Christmas Day lost me. Like a bright red balloon my Christmas Spirit unravelled from my fingers and floated away.

Of course Boxing Day was a completely different story. Boxing day was party day at Celi’s. My bright scented garden would heave with friends and music and laughter on Boxing Day. We would carry couches and tables and chairs under the trees and have ourselves A Time.  But I can still feel my Christmas Day stillness. The Christmas Day waiting.  It was strangely precious. No mirror. No acting. No pretending. Just a deep quiet that no other day offers.

I do give Christmas presents, but not always on Christmas Day. I love to give presents so I give them when I find them.  I am hopeless at wrapping and keeping secrets. I do  not understand Christmas Trees.

I am again without my children this Christmas and so I feel  that stillness approaching like a silent cool low mist. You never grow out of missing your children. From the moment they are born you are afraid when they are out of your sight.  There are many, many parents like me who know this. Many, many parents who spend Christmas Day alone. Many, many people without children who spend this day alone.  A few of my own children will be without family far away out there in the world.

And if YOU are alone on Christmas Day, then you are in good company.  Being alone is like being Free. You have time to Make a Plan. Let it be special.

c

122 Comments on “The Christmas Mist – Alone on Christmas Day

  1. A very beautiful and honest post. I felt like you for about 15 years after my divorce – I mourned the children I never had and the family Christmases that were never going to happen. I escaped in different ways but, unfortunately, was never allowed to be alone. It was not so bad, mostly, but people worry about you “not having fun”. I think people should be allowed to do their own thing, make their own choices. Big Man is slowly coming back round to Christmas – I think he´s still where I was and I have to respect that too. Now, though, I enjoy a scaled down version. Sometimes it´s just the two of us but we do it our way…a mixture of tradition and new stuff. And yes, now I love it again and I´m looking forward to my first Christmas in Spain with my parents….and Big Man of course!

    • They do worry don’t they our friends. We all have to come to ourselves in our own time too. How lovely to be having Christmas in your beautiful mountains with your handsome man. I look forward to seeing what you make to wear! A fabulous skirt again maybe?. c

    • Thank you, Jessica. I know how much you love christmas and look forward to seeing how your decorate that lovely tree.. c

  2. With my parents both gone now, I sometimes spend Christmas alone and it’s never bothered me. I think too many buy into the hype that it has to be a Norman Rockwell Christmas to be good. Like you, I’ve got a few things that I do and cook that mean “Christmas” to me and I spend an enjoyable day. And if Max doesn’t discover where I’ve hid the toilet paper, unlike last year, Christmas Day will be very special.

    • Very true, there are many different ways of enjoying this day, having toilet paper would be one of them I think!!. When we are alone the food we eat is absolutely our own favorite food, like your late night pasta dish. c

  3. I really don’t know how to respond to this because I’ve never been alone on Christmas. It would be too difficult for me. The line then that really struck me, that I can relate to, is this: “You never grow out of missing your children.”

    Several years ago my second daughter was studying abroad in Buenos Aires and missed Christmas back home in Minnesota. Her absence was difficult for me. This year she’ll miss Christmas because she will be on-call as a Spanish medical interpreter 5 1/2 hours away in eastern Wisconsin. We could drive to spend the holiday with her. But we are opting instead to gather with my 79-year-old mom and extended family because each Christmas with my mom is a gift. A gift.

    Thanks, C. for sharing your touching thoughts on Christmas.

    • Lovely that you will be gathering with your Mother, and second daughter will catch up I am sure. Sounds like she has a good job though and that is a blessing in itself! Lovely to hears from you as always Audrey.. c

  4. The world is a big place and full of people who have their own way of dealing with this season. I can’t even begin to go into the years of conflict in my head surrounding this time, and my story is different from yours. I look forward to New Years Day, that’s when I have my soul back. I wish I was as together as you seem to be, I am still stuck between wanting to please and wishing desperately there was an alternative to playing along. Any space in your darkroom ?Yours in Grinchly solidarity, xx Joanna

    • I am not sure if I am that ‘together’ I am so far away from my own family that I just toddle along to Johns christmas with his Mother and thankfully they are very low key.. so my disconnection is not frowned upon. I do love to give a present to The Matriarch. I think your darkroom is your kitchen but how to shut the door! Well you are not alone in this feeling, that is good to know. c

  5. A beautifully written honest post C. We are usually with family over Christmas but it is quite a tug of war of who to spend the day with – quite a stressful time all around.
    🙂 Mandy

    • This is something that i do not have at least, the stress of whom to spend the day with, however i am sure that you will work things out beautifully.. c

  6. Being alone IS being free! And yet Christmas is my favorite time of year. I have fond memories, and isn’t it odd how these memories continue to dog us far into our dotage?

    Love your photos, as ALWAYS. Great thoughts.

  7. P and I are spending Christmas alone this year. Eldest is living half way around the world with wife and two babies, youngest son is heading with girlfriend to spend holidays in Columbia with her parents up in the mountains on a coffee plantation. So it’s just the old guy and me. Alone. Like it used to be. And sorry, Celi, but I feel miserable as a wet sock at the thought of it.

    I’d better get some damned good presents this year to compensate. 😉

    • Oh you poor wet sock you. What a perfect expression. I know how sad it is to be away from your kids, well I also hope you get some damn good pressies! I shall put a word in.! c

  8. It’s all so personal and bloody brilliantly written that any comment from me would be worthless. Being able to be content in one’s own company, yet loving sharing life with others is a real asset which only a few truly possess. Many have to endure it but few can love it. I’m with you even though it is not my lot..
    By the way, the dough rising shots are beautifully seen.

  9. Hi, Cecilia. As always, a wonderfully written post with lovely photos threading throughout. I am a metaphorical sort, so in some ways I was connecting the rising of the bread with the rising anticipation many, especially children, feel for the coming season, though that take really doesn’t really fit your story. Though you were not sad on your Christmas Days of old and achieved a sort of zen-like contentment, your description of your day alone, if I am honest, made me a little sad. But at the same time I admire your strong sense of being content with enjoying the day with yourself, a character quality I could use more of.

    While I do enjoy Christmas traditions (even as I feel losses more keenly amidst them), I do acknowledge that this country’s sense of Christmas especially is all out of whack, and that the expectations we load on the day, both personally and corporately, can never be achieved, which leads to that post-Christmas sense of emptiness. And also, for many, it is indeed a sad, sad day, and they do not manage as well as you to be alone with themselves. And with the whatever other feelings I experience at Christmas, I am very cognizant of the fact that it is hard for many..

    Not having had a wife or children myself, I have not had to sort out exactly which threads of Christmas traditions to pick up from the past and weave into a new family context, though I hope I would temper and undergird all of the more flashy ones with my own sense of the religious import of the holiday.

    Finally, why the title “The Christmas Mist”? Is it a pun, a commentary? Thanks, as always for writing, taking photos, blogging.

    • The Christmas mist is my rising stillness as Christmas day approaches. If you have ever seen low mist come in and gather up over the water and even out here, over the plains, you will know what I mean. Impossible to photograph by the way. The rising bread reminded me of it. It was while I was taking the shots of the bread rising that I first felt that stir of the Christmas mist.
      So, in fact, your take on the bread rising was quite correct.
      Love, loved your comment.. Thank you Neil. c

  10. I can’t tell you how much I love and appreciate this post. I think there are many people who share your feelings. Sometimes, even when we are celebrating with everyone, we are still “alone” or still searching for that moment of aloneness to make it all seem more peaceful and calm and meaningful than it somehow ended up being. Thanks you for sharing.

    • And thank you for commenting, it was a difficult piece to write without sounding whiney. Christmas Day is a wonderful day for many people and yes a moment alone to reflect on why is pretty awesome too.. c

  11. I think each to his or her own. I’ve had big parties and some times been on may own. Personally it’s the cooking at Christmas which I enjoy, so even on my own, I’ll still cook something special.
    I’ve been invited to a friend’s house this year, but expect I’ll be helping in the kitchen…
    I hope you have a very merry Christmas Celia 😉

  12. What a sweet post. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with you for not liking Christmas. Really the main thing Katherine and I like is spending time together, OKand the gifts and food are nice.

    • I bet you are going to start sharing some of that lovely food soon too. Are we going to have a new christmas drink? c

  13. After my divorce but before the next set of kids, some holidays were like that for me. Like you, I learned to have projects at the ready. I didn’t want people feeling sorry for me. That quiet time can be exquisite.

    • Exactly, if you are moving fast and keeping busy, people don’t feel bad for you. I still love quiet time, i think this is why i am so drawn to farming, a lot of it done alone.. c

  14. Beautifully said, C. And I think Christmas is really all about traditions – whatever they may be, it’s important to keep them up and be comfortable doing what you are used to doing on Christmas.

    And it’s funny you watched Breakfast at Tiffany’s (one of my favorites), my Christmas movie is Roman Holiday :).

    • Roman Holiday, oh that gorgeous skirt she wore by the fountain.. ! I still love Breakfast at Tiffany’s, maybe I will get get it out again this year, maybe I will.. c

  15. I find nothing at all sad about your Christmas days alone. I hope this doesn’t sound patronizing but I think it was a good thing you did to let your children go to their much loved grandparents for Christmas. I am not a fan of Christmas either and I think for a lot of people it is a time for reflection and tinged with sadness as memories of loved ones either dead or distant come to mind.

  16. Too many people can’t stand to be alone, at Christmas or anytime, because they have never learned to be comfortable with the person they are when alone. I commend you for learning to like and be comfortable with yourself! A rare gift indeed. As for losing the Christmas spirit, I don’t think you have. You love and care for your family and friends for the right reasons, for them not yourself. And isn’t that what Christmas really is, thinking of someone else (your children with their grandparents, your friends with their families) above yourself and being ok with that. (Did that make sense? I hope you understand what I’m trying to say)

  17. Beautiful post, C… Years in retail sales long ago stripped all the Joy from the season for me, and I desperately want back that sense of wonder and peace that used to come with the holidays… I’m still searching for the Christmas Child I used to be. I get glimpses of her, but she’s still out of my reach. Perhaps now, with a grandchild about to lure her in, she’ll come close enough to touch…
    I envy you your peace.

  18. There is nothing remotely sad or unattractive *inherent* in solitude. We make it what it is for each of us. I actually crave the sort you describe, where all around is as it should be but doesn’t need to include me arbitrarily or perforce. And in some ways I feel that about holidays more than any other time. What I am feeling and getting from and infusing a holiday with is much more precious when it can be by choice and genuine and deeply felt.

    As for Christmas, I have had all sorts of Christmases and Christmas celebrations, from one end of the spectrum to another, and most were perfectly fine and hold happy memories for me. But honestly, it never mattered to me when, where or how those events happened. I don’t care any more about what day(s) I celebrate my birthday than I would guess a [or The Supreme] deity would, least of all one whose natal day was designated by educated guess and decree. And despite the possible palm trees in the vicinity of Bethlehem, the likelihood that a supernova burst into view, the arrival of kings bearing rich tokens of homage–I can’t begin to *buy* into the gift-jammed, over-spangled, tree-chopping frenzy that is someone else’s idea of Christmas–again, any of those things can be beautiful and meaningful reminders of one’s worldview and the love shared with family and friends, but only if they come straight from the heart. My heart craves a quieter sort of celebration these days, and thankfully, after the rush of the holiday concert season and all that it will entail for my musician husband, that’s what I hope and expect to enjoy. Quietly, just the two of us, and without need for wrapping it up in tinsel.

    You provided an eloquent reminder of what great value that has. True warmth and passion for the blessings of this life are best celebrated any day of the year–and in the ways we find most welcome. Thank you for the message, Celi.

    • Kathryn what a passionate and articulate response. You are a very clever woman, I love it when you write to me and when christmas does finally roll around and you collapse in a orchestral heap, sloshing your sparklie in its glass, I hope you have a lovely lovely day. But until then.. what has happened to the weather?, it is straight out COLD outside today!! c

  19. Hmmm, I am just trying to find the words…
    So much of your post was so moving and touched my heart. Christmas is surely distorted in our culture, I’ve been on a mission to bring back the joy with baking and throwing bright objects about my home, spending extra time in meaningful conversation with friends at dreadful “Xmas Funktions”.
    I think missing your children (for me anyway) is the biggest feeling of emptiness a parent can have. I am always so grateful that they are still here on my planet, happy and safe, wherever they may be. This isn’t always the case.
    I share your love of alone time and stillness… crave it, seek it out whenever I can. I think writers are “thinkers” and need time to process the words that keep popping by, demanding to be put onto paper immediately, or else!! Not unlike artists with their paints and canvas…

    • Thank you Smidge, it is true about writers and artists needing to process. I love the idea of decorating a home, it is so old and so rewarding. Thankfully I have no Xmas Funktions to chat at, The prairie dwellers are a bit like gophers, you don’t see them much.. And I do hope that you are mucking about with paints and canvasses again. You definitely have an eye.. c

  20. What a touching post Celi. As my son is rounding out his last year and a half at home, I am beginning to miss him already. How is that possible? That 18+ years will have gone by in a flash and his goofy toddler grin has disappeared. I am glad that you have a philosophical approach to Christmas and having good food and doing things you love certainly can make the day special. Glad you have John to share it with now. I can appreciate missing your kids though. I do believe that never will go away as I am getting closer to the “next phase”. Take care…

  21. I don’t much like Christmas either. I KNOW! You can’t tell by looking at me. But that’s because my commitment to us is to make Christmas what I want it to be, and to give up the insanty of spending the day with a bunch of people that i really don’t have anything in common with.

    • What a wonderful strong stand. That is hard to do believe me. I am sure that Rumpy and co get lots of christmas love.. c

  22. I love that stillness. That peace where time melts away without worry because everything that needs doing is done, and everyone who needs taking care of has all they need. Christmas has been a very stressful time for my family, for as long as I can remember. The production is very important to my Mum, even though wealth has eluded her by stark, painful spans for most of her life. So we respect her need for production, knowing she will struggle for months because of it. And then we do it all over again with my husband’s family, on the other side of that span, where we struggle with the weight of their showy generosity.
    But for us at home? For that three or four hours on Christmas morning when it is just the four of us? We get excited about Santa, sit beside our Boy Scouts tree, give each other one or two precious things, linger over breakfast and enjoy that time when we don’t have to be anywhere, doing anything else. It’s not quite stillness, no. But there is some peace, there 🙂

    • That three or four hours are the best then, lovely to make that your tradition.. after all Peacefulness is not always quiet!! c

  23. I think you are the opposite of the Grinch. You love your children so much and you are a kind person to share them with their father and his family on Christmas Day. I think that is the greatest gift of all. Having time to yourself to do as you please is also a blessing for any Mum! One day, when my kids are grown and gone, I see myself volunteering to serve meals to the elderly or homeless on Christmas Day. A way to spend time with those who may not have much time left.

    • That would be an ideal christmas for me too, serving food to the homeless, I never thought of doing that out here.. what a fantastic idea.. but you know i never considered NOT sharing my children with their father,, he is their father after all.. c

  24. Celi, your blog is all about celebration, each and every day. Christmas day might be one of quiet meditation for you, but if ever there was anyone who keeps what we understand to be the Christmas spirit all year long, it’s you – rejoicing in and being grateful for every small treasure that each day brings! Thank you for sharing that with us. 🙂

  25. I hear you I hear you! Last year was not Christmas for me…new city and state, mom had passed away, no family nearby, kids grown and doing their own thing in the old state. I just was not feeling it. This year I have no idea what will happen outside of I must put up a tree and do some decorating for the little t in me. Can I have a loaf of that wonderful looking bread for Boxing day though? 🙂

  26. Ceciliag! It is so hard for people to grasp the glorious silence of Christmas Day. It is like no other. To hear your description of having the town to yourself makes me grin. I know the feeling. Good for you writing about this. I think too many people feel shame about being alone instead of making it a special event for themselves.

    I grew up in a good-sized family where we did all the typical prep for the big day. Gifts were name draws so there was no stress about commercialism. I have special memories of making chocolates each year with my oldest sister and feeling so grown up and included. Family Christmases were grand.

    As an adult, a career woman, and married for a period, Christmas turned into masses of shopping and miles of traveling. I’m childless and on my own now so am grateful about being able to stay at home. I admit, I love to receive invitations from nieces or nephews or from friends. It’s great to know I’m remembered, but I reserve the right to see what the weather is going to be like.

    Remembering Canada’s wintery weather, if it’s safe and simple, I will be with people. If it isn’t, like you, I have projects that keep me engaged and able to enjoy my aloneness.

      • i am sure the bread would be lovely with peanut butter! Though I have to tell you that there are a mystery Three loaves that have raisins rolled into them! (smiles) c

    • Thank you so much for leaving this comment. I am thrilled that you have also experienced that lovely stillness of a Christmas day alone in the City and loved it too. I think it is a rare thing to have known. And I love that you wait and see what you are going to do at Christmas, this is so powerful. have a lovely week.. c

  27. I really enjoy reading your blogs and am using one of your photos as the screen background on my laptop….. thanks for taking it
    The line “you never grow out of missing your Children” struck a cord with me. Like you, my family of origin dispersed when I was young, therfore my own children (when they arrived) became everything to me. This Xmas my oldest son is on a military deployment in a troubled country, so I will not have all my children with me for the first time. There is an empty frightened place in my heart so I guess I am trying to compensate by having four Xmas funtions this year. The last one being a gathering of my family of origin, this will be the first time we have all gathered for more years than I care to remember, very exciting. Sadly my dearest sister is unable to come as she is also far far away. What is it about family and friends that although many members are in attendance at an event, the one that is missing can be yearned for at such a depth.

    • Hi G, Wonderful that you commented. really cool. Aren’t families funny. I hope you have absolutely splendid Christmas parties. and when you do get together with that raggle taggle original group .. have a quiet champagne for the Black Sheep. Beside your favouritist new tree! Quiet mind. Oh and which of the shots is on your laptop?c

  28. Thank you for writing this post as most people do not understand what it is like to be alone on a holiday. My extended family always celebrated on the Sunday before Christmas and then my daughter often went to her father’s for holidays so there were many years when I was on my own. Some years, I had a project to keep myself occupied and some years, I simply enjoyed the little things, like going outside to watch the sunrise.

    • Morning Nancy, .. the funny thing is that I always thought I was the only one who had so many christmas’ alone(, and it is only ion the last five years that i have not been alone) but now i discover that there really are many many women and men who quite happily just toddle on with their very own special day.. c

  29. Very honest post! Actually when I was younger I have slept throughh Christmas for at least 4 times, this was when my mom migrated for another country.

    • Ha ha ah a that it fantastic, sleeping through christmas is brilliant.. isn’t it sweet how the mums are the anchors for things like this!! c

  30. Cecilia beautifully written. I don’t feel the same but I completely understand the thought process behind your Christmas feelings.
    Beautiful and honest dear lady.

    • Hi Hippy, Thank you for getting it and commenting, it was a difficult write .. and lovely that we all have such different experiences! and get to enjoy them c

  31. This post almost made me cry (I do not cry easily). I think I will book mark this page to read Xmas morning. I also have an issue with my birthday. But reading all these comments… it makes me wonder – who over the age of 14 does look forward to christmas? Maybe those lucky people whose families have never been touched by divorce or feuds. I feel they’re probably few and far between. And very lucky.

    • Oh Aimee, honey, i did not mean to make you cry. I think kids and grannies are often the ones who look forward to christmas.. People with People I guess. However all I really meant to say was that you don’t need all those people to have a perfectly lovely day. And once people know that this is going to be your own special day on your own terms they tend to let you be and that christmas quiet is just grand.. Now the sun is rising so I must away out to the barn and shiver my way through the chores! Daisy is calling! c

      • I like that – ‘once people know that this is going to be your own special day on your own terms they tend to let you’. I think I need to adopt that more. Don’t worry, you made me cry in a good way. Made me think a bit more about how to self-preserve this year instead of getting caught up in pleasing everyone. Have a lovely day xx

  32. What a story! But I love Christmas!!
    This year, my husband & I are the hosts. We have invited 10 family members & I can’t wait!
    But I will be thinking of you & raise a Champagne glass to you & your well written articles & blog!
    Big hugs & kisses from Belgium! xxx

    • How lovely that you are the hosts this year, Christmas is so much fun in your own home, you will have a great time i am sure. Will your christmas be white, is it snowing there yet I wonder?.. c

  33. I’m not sure that I have the words to say what a lovely post this is. Non-sentimental, yet deeply felt. Poignent, yet not sachrine. Meaningful, yet not at all forced. Lovely.

  34. Thanks for sharing such a personal part of yourself. I feel both sad and touched by your story. I share a very similar past. My mother passed when I was 16, never had grandparents and when I moved out of state, my kids from a very young age spent every Xmas with their father…and therefore, I was alone. I celebrated with them before they left. Also too on Easter. But you do have your John, your animals and your lovely farmy. Despite such a change in my childhood holidays to those now, I never lost my Xmas spirit and love for the holiday. I feel a sadness but its expected and I enjoy and appreciate what I have. I’ll be thinking of your white, snowy Xmas and how pretty it will look!!

    • yes spice for the last four years i have had Johns family, so that is nice. There are many of us that were alone at christmas and many of us still are and it just adds a different dimension to who we are.. which is pretty wonderful really.. c

  35. I appreciate your post as I too will be alone on Christmas this year. My family is too spread out and schedules just couldn’t be worked around since most of them are in the medical field. Luckily, we made a big to-do for Thanksgiving and that was good. Plus, I’ll be moving into a new condo over the Christmas weekend, so I’m hoping that will keep me busy!

    • Moving at Christmas! How exciting. that is a pretty big Christmas pressie to yourself. You WILL be busy! You won’t mind being alone at all, you will be flat out redecorating your new space.. I hated moving out of the old places but I always LOVED moving into the new ones.. have fun.. c

  36. So thought provoking C. Where to start? Where to end? I know for some it is an exceptionally hard time to be alone, to be away, or to feel left out, and I think of those people.
    This year we’ll be skiing – the slopes are empty on THE day (the way I like it), but previous years have seen me on local buses and trains in India, on Thai beaches, being adopted by friends, or in bed with a box of chocs and a tea pot for company. All good in their own way. But the best is when I escape in November and return in January – you miss the fuss and the hype, the ****** songs in shops, the dreaded office party. Yup Bah Humbug! Mind you I’m a sucker for a real tree….. Oh and I well remember my London days, emerging on Boxing Day to party with friends, great happy times. Just don’t get me started on New Year……. !
    Another fabulous post my dear

    • You have it sussed. Often I FLY on christmas day.. no-one wants to fly on christmas day.. what a great idea to ski on that day.. you really will have a good time.. c

  37. I think the spirit of Christmas is just that, all about the spirit and not necessarily about what we are told it should be. If you nurture your own spirit on the day, and also allow those you love to do the same, then it’s a special day regardless of any trappings. A lovely post and thanks for sharing it.

    • And it case this didn’t come across the way I intended, I’m applauding how you deal with a holiday that’s so difficult for you (in nurturing your own spirit on that day) and in how you’ve encouraged your kids, and others, to celebrate. I haven’t spent a Christmas alone yet but know I will some day. My husband and I will be with my mom this year and we are grateful to have her as she’s our only family left.

  38. A very personal and touching post. Some feelings are always a part of us even though our circumstances may change. It is always just the two of us at Christmas since we moved to New England. We have enjoyed our last few Christmas seasons in Austria. The people at the hotel have such lovely traditions and have always included us. They ask me to read the story of Christmas from the Bible in English after they have read it in German. It is like being part of a very large family. This year it will be just the two of us…but I will treasure the day none the less.

    • reading from the bible at christmas in austria has an unbearably poignant christmas spirit to it. how beautiful that must have been, what a memory.. c

  39. It’s often said that I’m a Grinch as well come Christmas time, yet I’ll also be the humming Christmas songs in the middle of July. I’m one fascinating creature! 😉

    Also Oma and Opa?? Am I missing a German connection for you or do NZer’s use German words regularly?

  40. Hi Cecilia. Brilliant post. I can fully understand where you are coming from on this but for different reasons.
    Regards Florence x

    • Christmas is such a funny tome really, but I hope as a wee pressie to your husband you might like to give him so dried bananas and maybe a new sandal!c

  41. Cecelia,

    Ever since you commented on my blog I have been reading and loving yours.
    That was a thoughtful, warm and sweet post. And so honest. I always feel like my Christmas is not what it’s supposed to be: gift opening, laughing, enjoying. But families don’t live close together and holidays always make people feel lonely if they don’t fit into Hallmark’s version of life at Holiday time. You have found beauty and peace in your celebrations, and I admire you for that.

    Buddhism teaches that Ego is the cause of much of human suffering. If we didn’t put such stress on what we should do and feel, we wouldn’t miss what we don’t have.

    Warm wishes,
    Ronnie

    • Hallmark has a lot to answer for Ronnie. And I agree about Ego. We have to work all the time to keep it calm.. c

  42. I clicked over here from your comment on Rufus’ Food and Spirits Guide and so glad I did. What a beautifully told, moving story.

    I’ve never been alone on Christmas—I still fork over the $600 to fly home to be with my family. Some day, this may not be possible, but I try not to think about that. We’re not even a religious family. I just miss them so much this time of year.

  43. I get Celi, and giving gifts is about the thought, not the fact that it is Christmas. Blessings to you 🙂

  44. Thanks for the reply but it is still not snowing over here. It is sometimes freezing & only 0 to 1 °C ( 32 F ) About 10 to 20 years ago, it would be snowing in Belgium at Christmas but the last years it doesn’t!

    • Not too cold then. It never used to snow in london either, and look at last winter!! Sometimes out here on the plains we get mild winters, sometimes (like lately) terribly cold and snowy/icy ones. When you chart them they seem to cycle. We will see what this winter brings. John thinks we are due a nasty one, but he always says that.. c

  45. This is such a lovely post, I don’t know where to begin. Your Christmas sounds lovely to me. It’s a holiday I don’t feel very connected to, but I’ve always tried to for the sake of my children as they were growing up and now for my grandchildren.

    Love the photos. I really enjoyed watching the bread rise and then seeing it in its baked glory. 🙂

  46. A very thoughtful and honest post. I like that you make a Christmas plan and do things that are personal and enjoyable to you, whether “conventional” for December 25th, or not. Traditions are nice, but there is no rule that says everyone should follow the same ones. Sometimes it’s nice to make up our own. You have inspired me! Whatever you’re doing during the next month, I wish you the very best!

    • You too hetterbell, lovely to see you, owning a day just for yourself no matter when the day is can be a lovely thing.. c

  47. You are beautiful, Celi! Thanks for sharing this post, I don’t quite know what to say but it has really touched me reading it.

    For me many Christmases have been spent moving country or moving house or being swept up in festivities with friends on some foreign soil or other. Funny thing is, while I don’t remember many quiet Christmases I have remembered many lonely, lonely Christmases. In the midst of people who love me, but that isn’t always everything… this Christmas I will spend with my parents, quite looking forward to it. Dad is baking and I am cooking. x

    • I think it is especially true for those of us who are not in our countries of birth, Mel.. It will be great having Chrissie with your parents for a change though, I am wondering what your dad is baking.. c

  48. Really well written!
    And you’re the only one who doesn’t really likes Christmas.
    I always (ALWAYS) work with Christmas. I do that on purpose actually.

  49. I love you.
    Just like that.
    I just found your blog and
    I already feel like a friend.
    Beautiful.

  50. I truly love this post. I, too, do not love the hub-bub of Christmas preparation. It is not my favorite holiday. Not at all. Many/most of the preparations I make are for my family and friends that DO love it. Have a happy day and savor your children’s voices. 🙂

  51. Celi, how lovely – you have replied to everyone who has shared their thoughts. How kind, how thoughtful, you truly amaze me especially with all you have to do, you give your time to all of us who follow you. I hope your Christmas Day is just how you want it to be for you – you deserve it particularly as you give so much of yourself to us, family, friends and of course those four and two legged family members. I truly wish you a peaceful day. xx

  52. WordPress suggested your blog to me based on shared acquaintances on here, and upon finding this post I am grateful that it did so. I hope you got your day last week and I wish you many happy days in the new year to come.

  53. I really enjoyed this post and can relate. I’ve been done with xmas for years. I’m going to start my own tradition.

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