My family celebrated Christmas a few days early this year. We got together and worked on my brother’s kitchen remodel (okay, other people worked on that. I drank coffee and fried plantains) and ate mountains of tortillas y frijoles y semitas y cafe y tacos, and I may or may not have taught my nieces and nephews the chicken dance, because I’m a good aunt. Good times were had by all.
Anyhow, what celebrating early meant is that come Christmas Day, I had no plans at all. Let me take that back, I did have plans, which involved spending the whole day deliciously alone in my tiny little flat, doing alone things like wearing my ugly Christmas sweater and cleaning my bathroom- the kind of puttering about the house that I love so much.
The roommate was gone for the holidays, and I had an extra day off work, so really, I had a very long weekend to spend alone at home doing nothing and everything. The idea was to treat the whole thing as an experiment and see if celebrating a holiday alone wasn’t delightful, rather than the lonely pit of despair it’s made out to be.
The experiment started on Sunday, when I attended Awake church in Winston Salem to see what their Christmas service was like. I was treated with Christmas music (including a brass band) and a Moravian love feast, involving large buns and sweetened coffee served to us all at our pews in real mugs. That, I can handle. The music was lovely, as was the refreshment. Good start.
I also got it into my head that I wanted to attend midnight mass to ring in the holiday, so I looked up the hours of the local Catholic church. Turns out, they weren’t having midnight mass this year but they were having an evening Christmas service, so I swallowed my aversion to meeting strangers and off I went. The service was a bit more down-to-earth than I expected; perhaps my expectations had been twisted by visiting too many grand cathedrals in cities, not something tiny little Mocksville can afford to have. I enjoyed it though, from the liturgy, to the pleasure of a new experience, to getting to see my favorite nun.
Christmas Day day started out well enough with coffee, a Nutella croissant and raspberries, and a present by the tree. What’s not to love about that? I putzed around for a while, but to my surprise the day became intolerably interminable, and early afternoon, I finally caved and headed to my sister’s house for smoked turkey and a niece and nephew fix. The children kept me cheered till evening, when I went to a friend’s house to sleep over and watch a cheesy movie with popcorn.
Tuesday I had off work too, and once my bathroom was clean and my dishes washed, to my surprise I simply didn’t know what to do with myself. Usually I love being alone at home and often feel as if I simply don’t have time for all the housewifely projects I want to accomplish…but not this time. I ended up having tea with a friend again, which was lovely, if not at all the solo Christmas experience I had envisioned.
Wednesday finally came and it was almost a relief to go back to work and have something to do while I waited for my roommate to come home.
So, what did I learn from this experiment?
I learned that even if a person is an introvert who rarely gets too much alone time, holidays are weirdly different. There is a kind of persistent loneliness that seeps into your soul when you try going solo for Christmas. Knowing that the whole country is celebrating with family while you are alone is unsettling. I don’t regret trying it though, and may even try doing it better some year, now that I’m armed with the knowledge of what it’s like.