This year, many people will be celebrating Christmas alone. Whether single, married, divorced, or widowed — or simply far away from family and friends — facing Christmas alone can be a daunting experience. And no wonder! Everywhere we look is the inevitable onslaught of television commercials and print ads featuring large families sitting down for Christmas dinner or couples in romantic winter scenes with snow falling perfectly around them.
The fact is, for many people this time of year can be filled with anxiety – amplified by loneliness, depression, and sadness. But it doesn’t have to be this way! Here are a few ways to celebrate the season and make a solo Christmas spiritually fruitful and full of light.
Spend this special time in prayer. Along with Lent and Easter, Advent and Christmas are the most liturgically rich seasons in the Church calendar. So why not take advantage of this grace-filled time by spending some serious time in prayer? Some suggested ways include conversing with God before the Blessed Sacrament, making a good confession or offering a novena or two for special intentions. Think of what a powerful Christmas gift you can offer others through your prayers on their behalf!
It’s also a great time to reflect on our many blessings and thank God for His goodness and guidance in our lives. Step back and ponder the deepest truths of our faith, knowing that you are a child of God and that He is present with you always. Ponder the endless depths of Christ’s mercy and goodness — and the great love He has for each one of us in becoming flesh for the life of the world.
If it has been a while since you’ve been to church, let this be a new starting point. It’s not always easy to look around and see pews filled with families and couples at Christmas — but when Mass begins, single or not, we are all united in one common purpose: to celebrate the birth of Our Savior, His coming to dwell among us, and to welcome Him into our hearts.
Yes, Christmas is a wonderful time to gather with family and friends — but remember that Joseph and Mary had no large family with them, no finely set table, no Christmas tree, no cozy fire, or even an adequate place to lay the Christ Child. We, as singles, can particularly identify with and be edified by the singularity of this night when Joseph and Mary, along with a few shepherds from nearby fields, spent it in utter adoration, awe, and thanksgiving as they gazed upon the newborn Christ — the light of the world.
Reach out to others. We all know these hard economic times have taken their toll on our friends, our communities, and perhaps even ourselves. What a great opportunity then to reach outside ourselves to others. Lending a helping hand is often the best remedy for loneliness. Consider gathering a group of your single friends together and serving at a soup kitchen or Particularly at this time of the year, myriads of opportunities exist to help those in need. At the same time, we remind ourselves that “it is in giving that we receive.”
Spend some time in personal reflection. As we draw toward the end of the year, it is also a great time to take stock of your life and determine Gods will and plans for you. Reflect on the past year and see how God has guided you by answering (or not answering) prayers. Consider starting a spiritual journal and outline your dreams, goals, and hopes for the future. Ask the Holy Spirit to enter fully into your heart and fill it with His holy inspirations. Whatever comes to your heart, use this special time to connect with the deepest part of yourself and with God, knowing that apart from Him we can do nothing.
Connect with old friends — and make some new ones! Christmas can also be a great time to look up old friends and family. Has it been a while since you connected with a distant aunt, cousin, or friend? I recently went through my rolodex and called people that I’ve not been in contact with for months and even years. It was a tremendous blessing as we wished each other Merry Christmas, reconnected, and shared the latest news in our lives. Christmas can also be a great time to make new friends — whether at church, volunteering, or at any number of Christmas festivities — as we remain open to those whom God places in our lives.
Treat yourself well. Take some time to take care of you. Nourish your soul with spiritual reading materials, the sacraments, and prayer. Make time to remove yourself from the hustle and bustle and go for prayerful walks where you can meet God in nature. Rest, recoup, reorganize, and reprioritize!
If funds are available and you are free to travel, consider visiting someplace you’ve always wanted to go — a retreat house, a new city, a place of pilgrimage, perhaps even to Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity itself.
Whatever you do, remember that you are deeply valued and loved by the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, who know you better than you know yourself — and therefore you are never really alone. When faced with a Christmas on your own, don’t be discouraged or give in to despondency. Remember that God Emmanuel has come to dwell among us and remains with each of us always and everywhere.
So Merry Christmas my fellow singles. May we take advantage of our single state while we have it, by having one of the most spiritually enriching Christmases ever!