Ana’s Advent Calendar, Day 24: Spending Christmas Alone

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 Getting Through the Holidays Alone

I was asked to write a post about how I cope with being alone on the holidays. I don’t know if this will help anyone, but I hope in you reading this and getting some insight into who I am and my family, maybe it will give you some encouragement, hope, light, love, joy, and peace. I am not a writer, but I have always wanted to write about my family and share my journey in hopes that it could help someone in theirs. Please know, I am thinking of ALL of you this season who are spending the holidays alone and remember: “The possibility for rich relationships exists all around you-you simply have to open your eyes, open your mouth and most importantly, open your heart.” – Cheryl Richardson

Ever since I was a kid the holidays were always about family, great food, sharing joy, love, compassion, and kindness with others. My mom was a single parent with three kids and there was my grandma, aunt and uncle, but they were gone by the time I was in Junior High.  So many people in my family passed on while I was so young, but we still managed to make the holidays about the importance of family (I would find a way to blend the last 2 sentences together). I can remember my mom always prepping everything so we could make cookies, fudge, divinity, peanut brittle, and so much more. Let’s not forget the turkey, dressing, sweet potatoes, mash potatoes, gravy, homemade rolls, and homemade macaroni & cheese. The menu went on and on and I would always wonder, “Who is going to eat all this food?” But my mom was spreading joy and love to others, by making sure others were not spending the holidays alone, or hungry.  She was instilling in us the importance of giving, togetherness and love. It is the letting go of all that can divide and destroy family and friends; that cloud that blinds and keeps us from what the holidays are supposed to be about. For those spending the holidays alone because of religion and bigotry, hoping that those family members will wake up and see that it isn’t about a person’s sexuality, skin color, beliefs, or money it is about love of family.

The word stranger did not exist in my mom’s vocabulary she knew everyone. She wanted to make sure everyone she knew had something to eat, and would not be alone for the holidays.  In November 2002, my mom passed away and it left this huge hole; it was like something was just not right, something was missing, and it felt/I felt vacant. No one knew what to do, or say. We were so lost on Thanksgiving and Christmas; how can we celebrate when the very heart of our family was missing… broken!  I found myself continuing on with the way my mom would fix all the holiday food and trying to make sure that those who would be alone for the holidays not only had something to eat, but also someone to spend the holidays with. Little did I know the healing I was getting just by helping others.  As time went on I found myself moving away from Missouri and living in Oregon. I knew this journey would be exciting, opening my eyes to a side of the world I had not experienced. The diversity and opportunity to see and do all things that I just didn’t have access to in the Midwest. One thing I wasn’t prepared for was when it came around to the holidays was being alone. Watching how people I had come to know talking about what they were doing for the holidays.  What was I going to do to keep myself from going down the road of and gloom? One thing I did know is that when we are faced with obstacles that we must get through (especially alone) negativity can come crashing in like a tidal wave, and I was not going to let this happen.

One of the biggest ways I get through the holidays is music, it has always been a huge part of my family. It is my voice, the very foundation to my soul. I find comfort in the words, and the instruments. It inspired me to keep going, to fight the doom and gloom that can come with spending the holidays alone. I found that I could continue with making sure that anything I can do to help someone get through the holidays, and even this journey we call “life”, with as less stress and sadness as possible. Then I would, by simply showing kindness, generosity, and compassion. Why? Because that is what my mom did. She was a bright light, (and as far as I was concerned she was an angel) and because of who she was, and what she did people still remember what a phenomenal woman she was. Do I still get lonely and sad? Yes! I still wonder why I haven’t met the love of my life, but maybe this is just my journey for right now, and I have so much love, compassion, kindness, and joy to bring to so many that are struggling to make it through at times very crazy up world we live in. So you ask, how are you coping? What are you doing to get you through the holidays? I look around me and I try to always see the beauty, to be grateful, joyful, to believe in love, faith, hope, and show kindness to others. To take these seeds and start planting them in each person I come in contact with.  I am always working to create a chain reaction of hope, light and love in a world that is fighting against so much darkness. I know that so many have been turned away from their families, and people who claimed to be your friends have turned their backs on you. Churches that have completely lost sight of what their message is supposed to be about, have left you heart broken, fighting depression, and loneliness.  I have decided to continue in my mom’s journey and staying strong in my faith, believing it is my role, our role to help each other through the difficult times and the great times. To inspire, share, educate, and show that true unconditional love even if it was not shown to us.

I am not going to pretend that spending the holidays alone is like peaches & cream, because that would be a lie, but I can tell you I try my best to find ways to bring joy into someone else’s life even if it is just for a few moments because it brings joy into mine and it helps me to get through the holidays. The feeling I get in my heart and soul to see that smile, hear that laugh makes my heart sing. I found that I get through the holidays by simply being the woman my mother raised me to be. I live in California now and I will be alone for the holidays this year too, but I will do what I can to bring some joy, and peace into as many lives as I can even if it is just for a little while. I know that how I cope with the holidays may not help you, but you have to admit that even in our uncertainty, those moments when a simple act of kindness, generosity, and love always make you smile and eases the loneliness inside even if it’s for a few hours. If this does inspire you then will make it through the holidays by showing unconditional love and in the process healing your spirit.
Happy Holidays

Pennie J Hancock


26 thoughts on “Ana’s Advent Calendar, Day 24: Spending Christmas Alone

  1. awesomesub says:

    Hi Pennie, what a wonderful post. Your mom must have been so awesome, I love how you describe that she was so important for all of you in the family, and that she had such a giving and loving heart. That you go on with the good your mom did is amazing and admirable. I think this shows so much of what we are meant to do, not only at Christmas but in general, so you creating a smile and a feeling of being appreciated in the season is simply wonderful. The way I understood you, you have seen clearly that there are many people who are grateful for this. Maybe not all are able to let you feel and show you how important it is what you do for them, but I am rather sure that they do notice and experience this as something profoundly positive.



    Liked by 2 people

    • JoanneBest says:

      Sweet Nina, you are the huggiest hugger in HugVille and I’m sorry for stealing your hugs but I can’t help it, I’ve always been a hugger in real life, but you have turned me into a cyber-hugger and I thank you for that 🙂
      Hugs 😉
      ❤ xox

      Liked by 1 person

      • awesomesub says:

        Joanne, thank you for saying that, but I don’t know if I actually did anything about hugging at all. Maybe you just saw that hugs are lovely online too? I mean, they are important and good, so I am just happy you love hugs. 🙂

        hugs ❤



  2. pieclown says:

    Hi. I just read you post Pennie, Doing things for others is a great way to get away from the being alone . Maybe that is why we take a break from hospital clowning. I did clown at a daycare for children of special needs yesterday. The kids laughing fueled this sick clown on. Pie pie 4now

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Lynn says:

    Thanks for sharing Pennie, your mom sounds amazing 😊
    I think you’re right, bringing joy to someone else does give you joy as well. I know I get far more enjoyment from seeing people’s happy reactions to my gifts to them than from receiving my own gifts. Although that is fun too 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  4. SH says:

    What a wonderful post, Pennie! I can feel your love for your mom 🙂 She sounds like such a wonderful person and you are following in her footsteps. What a strong woman you are! It’s quite often one of my grown children will say “Mom, my friend is alone for the holiday I’m bringing them with me” They know my response is always “Please do” 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Irishey says:

    Hi, Pennie, and Merry Christmas! Thank you for your heartfelt post about your past and present Christmases with and without your mother, and earlier with your grandmother, aunt and uncle.

    It sounds as though you successfully have taken up the torch of love and generosity carried by your mother for so many years. Her example gave you a wonderful legacy to do for others out of kindness and a giving spirit.

    I don’t think you are alone again this holiday season, nor in any season since your mother’s passing. You carry her with you, solidly, in this present from your past together and into your future. She is an intrinsic part of you. I felt I got to know her simply through your words. You share her with those with whom you come in contact, giving pieces of her and yourself to brighten someone’s day. Those people are very fortunate – they are getting the double whammy of your mother and you!

    I do understand you are hoping to find someone special, in the flesh, with whom you can share and enjoy the holidays, and everyday life. Memories are wonderful and can sustain us through the toughest times, but it is important to have that physical presence, the warm touch, a smile that brightens our moments, a vice that soothes, amuses and excites us.

    I pray you find that special someone to share your future. You have such a lot to give, not only in moments to strangers and acquaintances, but to close friends, a life partner, and a family of your own – whether that is comprised of children, in-laws, or friends you adopt as your family.

    Meanwhile, there is cyber family here at Ana’s, and other places, for you to hang out with and be merry! The only caveats are to watch out for flying wooden spoons, and not call Mrs. Clause by her first name. Oh, and to keep things in the PG-13 range, thereabouts. 😉

    Warm Christmas cookies and big hugs to you!

    Liked by 2 people

  6. JoanneBest says:

    Oh Pennie, you brought me to tears as you described your Mom and your love for her. It’s so difficult to fill that Mother-sized hole in your heart, especially at Christmas time. This will be my 3rd Christmas without my Mom and the 1st without my Dad. Even though I have my hubby, even though I have 2 brothers and relatives, nothing can fill that place in your heart and there are times when I am surrounded by people yet still feel alone.
    I can’t hold a candle to Irishey’s words, and it is so true about the cyber-family here at Ana’s, and it’s not just at Christmastime, but the whole year through. This is the one place in the world I can come to and feel like I’m with family, minus any judgment, just like it always was with my Mom. ❤
    It's incredibly brave to move to another state by yourself, it takes a lot to do that, and I am sure you will find your heart's desire when you least expect it ❤
    Merry Christmas Pennie, thank you for sharing your memories of your wonderful Mother, it's a beautiful thing, the way you have continued her traditions. I hope the New Year brings you everything you want, you certainly deserve it! 🙂
    Hugs and xox

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Monica Wiant says:

    Hi Pennie,
    I loved this post. It sounds like your mother was a remarkable person, and you are honoring her legacy well. A world without strangers is one I aspire to live in as well, though it’s not always easy to put yourself out there without the foundation of family surrounding you.

    Thank you for sharing your story and perspective with us. Merry Christmas.


  8. catrouble says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your mom with us Pennie. She sounds like an amazing woman and you are definitely following in her footsteps. I agree with everything Nina, Irishey and Joanne said above…they do have a way with words don’t they. 😉 Wishing you a very Merry Christmas.

    Hugs and blessings…Cat


  9. renee200 says:

    What a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. 12 years ago hubby and I made the decision to move 300 miles away from family, friends and all that we knew. Before we moved Christmas was my holiday in the family. I would make and serve dinner for anyone who did not have anywhere else to go regardless of religious affiliation. There were times that we served 50-60 people on Christmas Day. I loved making people happy and seeing them enjoy time together. When we moved away we did not have anyone here other than my ailing in-laws. The first Christmas was lonely and I got thru it in a fog. The following year I realized that many of the people around me were retiree’s who did not have family nearby. Many of them spent Christmas alone. I connected with the activity director in our community and helped organize a potluck Christmas buffet for the following year. The first year we served over 100 people in following years it continued to grow. Reaching out to others even if they are not “family” during the holidays is an excellent way to ease the loneliness. Blessings and hugs. R

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Laura says:

    Pennie – Thank you so much for taking the time to write this for us. Your compassion for others came came loud and clear. Your mom seems like she was a phenomenal woman who in turn raised a wonderful daughter. I wish you the very best this season and may next year see you and all the other terrific people here the very best.


  11. sarah says:

    Hi Pennie

    I enjoyed your post so very much. It was lovely to read about the memories you had with your family growing up and how it encouraged you to reach out & help others.
    Happiness is, Indeed, a choice we make.

    Moving away from family and friends is challenging but also it is interesting to see new places.

    Happy holidays to you and thank you for sharing your story.


  12. rozharrison says:

    Hi Pennie, what a wonderful, positive and inspiring post. What an amazing and giving woman your Mom was and I just love that you have continued her giving ways. It definitely brings its own joy.



    • nancygoldberglevine says:

      Wonderful post–I usually hate this time of year because bad things always happen around the holidays–I am almost always laid off and/or something happens to me or a family member. My husband passed away in 2001, and my dad passed away in 2014–my mom is in a nursing home and in the early stages of dementia. I am going to visit her tomorrow and have breakfast with her. And my second best friend, who has a great sense of humor, is taking me there.
      How do I cope? Some years I can’t. Listening to music does help, I’m Jewish, but for some reason, I’ve always loved Christmas songs. Sometimes I turn them into Chanukah songs like
      “Silver Dreidels” instead of “Silver Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Rabbi,” etc. As crazy as my life is, I have to take everything a minute at a time. Happy holidays to you!


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