Alone for the Holidays?

By Guest Contributor Dr. Margaret Paul, YourTango

Alone for the Holidays?

Are you single, newly divorced, and without family around you for the holidays?

Being alone is a challenge for many people. This challenge may loom especially large during the holidays if you are single or newly divorced and without family around you. Holidays are a time to share love, and many people end up feeling depressed when they do not have people around with whom to share love. If you are in this situation, what can you do to make the holidays joyous rather than depressing?   The key phrase here is SHARE LOVE. Too often people think in terms of getting love rather than giving and sharing their love. They don’t realize that it is the act of giving their love that is so very fulfilling. Here are a few examples… 

Gail had grown up very lonely in an emotionally distant family, with parents who did not freely give their love and relatives who were also cold and distant. She had married an emotionally distant man, and after 7 years of more loneliness, had decided to leave him. This was her first holiday season alone. Gail decided that she was not going to be alone and lonely again this holiday season. She did some research on service agencies that needed volunteers and discovered a women’s shelter in her area for women and their children who were hiding from physically abusive husbands. The shelter was badly in need of funds for food, which Gail didn’t have. What she did have was the time to help gather food.

Each day, after her job as a secretary, Gail went around to the markets in her area until she found some willing to donate Christmas dinners for the mothers and their children. Gail had such a fulfilling experience finding food that she found a small part-time job in addition to her regular job so that she could afford to buy presents for the children at the shelter for Christmas. She had such fun buying presents for the children!  Then, on Christmas day, she spent her time at the shelter cooking, decorating, serving, and having Christmas dinner with these brave women who had left their abusive husbands to save themselves and their children. She loved watching the children’s joyous little faces as they opened their presents on Christmas day!  It was the best Christmas she ever had! By choosing to share her love with people who needed her, she felt filled with love rather than alone and lonely.  

Gary was in a similar situation to Gail. He was single, had been an only child to parents who were no longer alive, and had no close relatives. His janitorial business did not give him much opportunity to make friends. Gary had spent many lonely holidays feeling isolated and depressed, and decided a few years ago to do something about it.

Gary loved animals. As a child, his dog had been his main connection with love. After some research, Gary discovered that there was a wonderful animal shelter within a half-hour of his home – a shelter that loved and cared for animals and didn’t euthanize them. Gary started to volunteer one day a week on the weekends – cleaning, feeding, playing with puppies and kittens, helping to interview people who wanted to adopt a pet, and getting to know the other volunteers. He found that he really connected with the people who volunteered there. Many of them were loving people who were deeply devoted to caring for animals. As his friendships developed, he found he had a new sense of family centered around the shelter. Thanksgiving and Christmas were now sometimes spent with the other volunteers who did not have families, and sometimes with the families of some of the volunteers. Gary’s life had become full and fulfilling. The last I heard, he was dating a woman who also volunteered at the animal shelter.  

No matter what your life situation is, you can always share your love with others. Instead of feeling alone and lonely this holiday season, open your heart to giving. There are many people and animals out there who would welcome your love.  

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