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Pick a Holiday, Any Holiday, and Plan to Make it Happy

By Lorie Kleiner Eckert
 

If you are planning to be alone for a holiday, the operative word in being successful/happy is to plan. I have a reoccurring dream in which a bunch of people are coming over to my house for dinner and I’ve neglected to get to the grocery store in advance. So, there I am, running around crazily, trying to pull it off, though the pantry and freezer are bare. In reality, often when I have guests for dinner, meaning 99.9% of the time, I’m embarrassed by how much I have actually prepared and how overboard I have gone. Wouldn’t it be nice if after a holiday alone you feel that you have gone overboard in taking care of your one and only guest, you?

Before we move on to the how-to’s of being happy at the holidays, I need to disabuse you of the notion that only the “traditional” celebration of a given holiday will do. Instead, you need to take the long view of the holiday, as my history with Thanksgiving will illustrate.

 

  • For a dozen years, my parents traveled from St. Louis to Cincinnati to be with me and with my husband and kids for turkey day. So set were we in this plan that we could virtually hear Tevya shouting, “Tradition!”

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  • Then I got divorced. Now I only had the kids for Thanksgiving in the even-numbered years and so my folks came to Cincinnati in those years. In the odd-numbered years – and they did feel odd at first – I went to St. Louis and gathered up the relatives with no Thanksgiving plans and took them out to dinner. Before long, Tevya was singing again, albeit in a slightly different key.

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  • The years passed and the kids grew up and got married and moved away from Cincinnati. And then Mom and Dad died. And then the kids moved back to Cincinnati, this time with grandchildren in tow. Tradition morphed and morphed again. For the last ten years, my daughters have gone out of town to celebrate the holiday with their in-laws while my son and his family – and my ex-husband – celebrate at my house with me. But then, in the midst of shouting “Tradition!” my son got divorced and now is off to celebrate the holiday with his lovely new girlfriend’s family.

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  • But never fear, Tevya will sing again because we have a new plan. Everyone is coming to my house for breakfast before going off to their other parties.

 

 

Now that you see how this tradition thing really works, here are some ideas for a new one:

 

  1. If you really like making a dinner at your home, then make one! Ask around and you will find many party-less people. As blogger Laurie Stoneham says, “You are not alone in being alone at the holidays.” So, do these people – and yourself – a favor and invite them over.

  2.  

  3. No? You’re not falling for that? Ok, how about this: invite everyone you know to a party the day after so that you are so busy preparing on the day of that you don’t even know you are alone.

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  5. If you don’t want to host a party but want to be a guest at one instead, gather up your courage and invite yourself to one. Here is a fact of life: people don’t know what you need unless you tell them. At my house, as you will recall, so much food is prepared that one more mouth could not possibly make a difference.

  6.  

  7. If you want to skip parties altogether but you want to stay in town, find places to go. Do charity work at a food pantry or homeless shelter. Plan an outing to a movie or go on a hike. Read the local paper to see what special events are happening. In every case, be prepared. Check hours of operation so you will not be disappointed.

  8.  

  9. If a quiet day at home sounds more like nirvana to you, you still need to plan. If you want to read a good book or watch a good movie check out three of each from the library so that if the first two are duds, you won’t be disappointed. Don’t forget to bring in your favorite treats. This is not a time to eat nutritiously. For me, Cheetos and Coke with candy spearmint leaves for dessert are so good for the soul that they must be good for the body. Of course, I don’t know the best way to pamper you, but you do, so do it!

  10.  

  11. If you really just want to run away from it all instead, plan a vacation. Draw a circle on a map showing a 100-mile radius of home, pick a place and go. Or, if you can afford more than that, many tour companies have trips with holiday themes. (Road Scholar is a company that I have used. Guess what? Lots of women travel alone on their tours.)

Especially if you are planning to travel, you can see where pre-planning is a must. But in reality, it’s a must in every case. Holiday happiness does not occur magically on its own, you must plan for it. But that’s no problem. You can do it! And after you plan, and after you have a great time, then what? Time to go overboard! Reward yourself somehow. As for me, I’m going to buy that cardigan at the mall. Yes, it’s a bit pricey, but I earned it and I will enjoy the warm hug it gives me for a job well done.

 
About the Author

Lorie Kleiner Eckert thinks of herself as a cheerleader with the message, life is difficult, but you can do it! She has cheered people on through her work as a motivational speaker, as an award-winning columnist, and as an artist who makes quilts with words and symbols pieced into the design. She also has three books in print through Pelican Publishing Company. To learn more about Lorie, check out her website/blog/newsletter; or see her motivational artwork printed out on giftware on Etsy; or follow her or Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.

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