Spending Christmas Alone: Is It Really That Big of a Deal?

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For many people, the idea of spending Christmas alone is wrong – something to fix. And for some people, that’s true. Not everyone wants to be alone on Christmas, and that’s a whole other story.

But what about the people who do like being alone on this major holiday? Is it really a big deal if they want to fly solo?

Society is against spending Christmas alone?

It’s difficult for many of us to see why anyone would want to be alone for Christmas, and there are two main reasons for this.

First, there are a lot of “should’s” surrounding Christmas. Secondly, loneliness is a real problem in our society, and it’s easy to worry that being alone for Christmas is the same as being lonely on Christmas. Here’s a closer look at each issue.

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Christmas “should’s”

Since Christmas is an age-old holiday steeped in tradition, it’s understandable that there are lots of things we’re expected to do. That is, there are lots of things we “should” do.

We “should” be holly, jolly, merry, etc. We “should” spend it with family. We “should” have turkey, or ham, or whatever your family typically cooks.

So, when you do something that isn’t on the typical Christmas “should” list, it takes everyone by surprise. It can be a new concept for many people that 1) you could be alone and happy on Christmas, and 2), you can have a good Christmas even if you don’t celebrate it in the traditional sense, or if you don’t celebrate it all.

Being lonely versus being alone

Some people are truly lonely. According to a recent survey, looking at 20,000 Americans, data revealed that loneliness has doubled in the last 50 years. And this is very bad news. Loneliness is often correlated with anxiety, depression and even suicidality.

So, when we hear of someone spending Christmas alone, our natural, and well-meant instinct is to question this and to even offer our homes to them.

After all, Christmas is a social holiday. And to many of us, it just seems wrong that anyone would have to spend it alone. So, it feels like your moral obligation to invite the loner.  And while the intention is laudable, it can kind of be irksome to people who actually like being alone.

Consider what Lisa Miller writes in her essay, The Gift of Loneliness, “Nothing makes a single person feel more single and more anxious, and more anxious about being single, than a holiday that perpetuates a whole lot of myths about family togetherness at a moment when togetherness is not an option.”

The media promotes a social Christmas

Without a doubt, Bing Crosby didn’t mean to make things harder for everyone with his classic hit, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas.” It’s a lovely carol, but it, along with many other songs and films, just reinforces the idea that Christmas has to be a holiday spent with family and friends.

Just take a look at other all-time Christmas hits, like U2’s “Baby Please Come Home”, or Elvis Presley’s “Blue Christmas”, or  Charles Brown’s “Please Come Home for Christmas”, or Sam Smith’s “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas.”

Their key message: you need to be with people during Christmas time. And many movies spread the same message: The Holiday, Sex and the City, Home Alone, and Love Actually are just a few.

These cultural norms can make Christmas quite difficult for people who actually prefer spending Christmas alone, making them feel like a social pariah and as though something’s wrong with them for going against the grain.

The benefits of spending Christmas alone

So, why do people like spending Christmas alone? Here are some simple, yet incredibly rational, motivations for doing Christmas sans people.

#1: No negative family interactions

Unfortunately, families are often riddled with dysfunction, tension, and estrangement. Yes, even at Christmas time.

#2: A stress-free holiday

Negative family interactions are bad enough, but when they ruin your Christmas, it just makes it even more stressful.

#3: No expensive travel costs

If spending Christmas with other people means forking out a hefty sum for a flight ticket, this is one thing you get to avoid.

#4: Christmas on your terms

When you spend Christmas alone, you get to enjoy a holiday just as you like. If you like the traditions, that’s great. Have at it. But what if you don’t? You can create your own fulfilling and solitary holiday traditions.

As psychologist Dr. Arthur Cassidy says, “There is actually a liberty to being in one’s own company, even if you are construed by others as being lonely. Spending Christmas alone can certainly be liberating.

We live in a world where we are expected to conform – not doing so can be an exciting phenomenon.”

#5: You get to rest

Life is busy and stressful. And sometimes you just need a rest. After all, Christmas isn’t necessarily relaxing!

As blogger Dena Landon writes in her piece Why I love being alone for the holidays, “With the rush and bustle of daily life, it’s a luxury to have an entire day or two all to myself. No deadlines, no one asking me to get them water after I just sat down on the couch, no social demands. My time is truly my own in a way that it rarely is the rest of the year.”

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#6: Your social anxiety doesn’t like Christmas

If you struggle with social anxiety, your holiday is actually a nightmare before, during and after Christmas.

#7: You’re a fan of JOMO, not FOMO

The Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO) compels a lot of people to socialize even if they’d rather not. But then there are people who prefer JOMO, or the Joy Of Missing Out. It’s basically choosing to skip something because you know you’d be perfectly happy doing your own thing. And sometimes spending Christmas alone is your cup of tea.

#8: You’re not religious and Christmas isn’t your jam

Christmas is a religious holiday, although it is often celebrated in a secular, consumeristic way. But if you’re not a religious person, you may not feel comfortable celebrating a holiday – even from a secular point of view.

As you can see, there are plenty of good reasons why some people like spending Christmas alone. If someone you know wants to fly solo this holiday season, get curious and ask why. Chances are, they’re making that decision because of one of these 8 reasons.

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