So The Phone Rings and Your Adult Kids aren’t going to get home for Christmas. They’re very Sorry But After All It Isn’t Going To Work For Them To Get there For Christmas. But you’ll be ok, won’t you, Mom?
What Do You Do? What Do You Say? Most of all, how do you get through it?
This time of year is very hard for people in their second fifty years and older. It seems as if the kids don’t come, or they only call to say they’re not coming. It’s really hard not to feel that you’d just as well rent that spare room to Scrooge as long as no one else is using it. The thing to do, of course, is to catch a little Christmas Spirit, but it’s important to realize that it means a new take on that old cliché. I just got off the phone with a friend, recently widowed, who said he thinks he’ll just postpone Christmas – maybe til spring because he’s just got nothing to look forward to, and he’s outlived all of his friends. That’s pretty understandable. But, if you’ve really outlived all of your friends, you’ve got to make new ones.
This is a good time for taking baby steps. Accept that it’s not going to feel like Christmas. Soon after my husband died, I said to the doctor, “I just want everything to be OK.” And she replied, “It will be all right, but it will never be OK again.” Meaning, I had to change because the old celebration wouldn’t be coming back. Now, this isn’t very funny. I know that. I know you count on me to be funny. But sometimes, we have to say, “This is the way it is.”
So, when that call comes what can you do? Concentrate on small celebrations to get you through the days before the holiday and the day itself. Try something totally different than your regular Christmas. If you have a friend who is alone, this is a good time to call him or her. I guarantee that if you stop and think, you’ll be able to think of someone who’d welcome a call. Then, think of something just a little outrageous. Maybe you’ll choose something that’s nothing like what you think of as “Christmas.” The first year we were alone, my kids and I – they were quite small – went to dinner at a nice restaurant in Lakewood. It has since gone out of business, but I try not to make too much of that. Anyway, that didn’t work. So the next year, we ordered a pizza and watched Indiana Jones and Temple of Doom. That was really awful, but it was actually better because we had no preconceived ideas.
In other words, pick something you’d like to do, that will nourish your heart and don’t fret if it doesn’t fit the Christmas picture. The suggestion is often made to go and volunteer somewhere, and that’s a good suggestion, but the only thing wrong with it is that often there are plenty of volunteers at Christmas time. A better time to start volunteering is in January, when not so many are doing it, and by the time the next Christmas comes along, you’ll be at home there and fit right in.
The most important thing is to say “I can’t have what I want, but what can I do with what I have? “ Think of little things that will feed your heart, and whenever you can – send a note, or make a phone call to someone else. Every time you reach out and touch someone your heart will heal just a little. And Christmas will come.
By the way, a thing that works for many people is to choose another day to celebrate Christmas, when the family can get together. Sometimes folks are more available when the stress of the holidays is over. One friend celebrates what they call “Little Christmas” on January 6 which is Epiphany – the day the wise men are traditionally believed to have arrived at the manger. They trade small gifts, free of the pressure to have a perfect day. Or at least a pretty darn good one.
Dorothy Wilhelm is the author of Catch The Christmas Spirit And Keep It All Year Long. It’s still available in time for Christmas at www.itsnevertoolate.com. If you would like a touchingly sentimental autograph, write Dorothy at Contact her at Dorothy@itsnevertoolate.com • PO Box 881, DuPont, WA 98327, or 1-800-548-9264. The books are $10 including mailing and sales tax. Ask about our Good Customer discount.