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.
Pennie J Hancock
- Day 1: Welcome and Christmas Expectations
- Day 2: Christmas at my House
- Day 3: Giving Tuesday
- Day 4: Pizza and Poker/Holiday Recipe Exchange
- Day 5: Little Lynnie’s Christmas Crackers
- Day 6: Blue Christmas
- Day 7: Take your Child to the Bookstore
- Day 8: St. Knickerless Day
- Day 9: Not so Traditional Holiday Traditions
- Day 10: Holiday Sing-a-long
- Day 11: Jolly Old Mrs. Claus ( Ana’s Spoons)
- Day 12: Congratulations to winners so far
- Day 12A: Christmas Kisses
- Day 13: Writing over the holidays
- Day 14: White Elephant
- Day 15: Christmas in Ireland
- Day 16: Christmas with her Horse
- Day 17: Christmas in Translation
- Day 18: Sex Toy Story 3
- Day 19: Second (First) Christmas
- Day 20: Christmas Stress
- Day 21: How QueerScifi.com was created
- Day 23: Christmas in Finland
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