Holidays Hollow Daze

dawn wrote about one of the unglittery (matte?) aspects of the holiday season: people without families can feel deep loneliness at this time of year.

dawn’s not alone. There are so many expectations of how one should feel, or what one should be doing, or what one should be interested in…it’s a bit like being the kid in the class who doesn’t get but a few valentines in their gaily decorated shoebox. Even the most self-possessed can feel a bit trampled upon at this oh-so-cheerful time of year. One has to be ever-mindful of the best part of holiday meaning, but one can get sore jaw from gritting teeth!

I don’t particularly care for holidays one or another. Is it all programmers who think of holidays as nice quiet days when people don’t call and interrupt coding? Holidays aren’t a problem for me, maybe because I spend them with what small family I have, but I know what dawn means whenever I have to walk into a party alone. And I suspect I’ll have some emotional adjustment the first few holidays after my mom dies.

When my mom moved to Albuquerque where I lived with my then-husband, we figured out that none of us cared a wit about the expected holiday traditions. Family holidays when I was a kid were full of stress, unspoken resentments, and impossible expectations. So Mom, Michael and I made holidays an opportunity for a hike. The day before Thanksgiving M. and I cooked a turkey so we could have sandwiches for a picnic, which we had at the Bosque Del Apache wildlife refuge. The BDA is a lovely spot, and arosed genuine feelings of gratitude and joy…especially when the geese and cranes flew in at dusk. You might think we’d have the place to ourselves, but there were scads of like-minded people.

Since my mom can’t do those activities anymore, we’ve made up other traditions such as our Orphan’s Christmas dinner. Singlets, widowed older women, younger divorced women, just plain singlets would have dinner together and oh, what a lot of fun we had. A friend here in Seattle was facing what could have been a difficult Thanksgiving, so she hosted one of these sorts of dinners.

Friends of my mom have invited her to join them for festivities now that we live in different cities. I’m grateful to people who can reach out beyond their immediate circle and embrace friends and make them welcome. And the circles will need to make an opening for an outside since singlets can’t ask to join in.

dawn is right, even when you try to make alternate plans, this holiday season can be depressing as so many have noted.

Marching to a different drum only feels wrong when you’re surrounded by the wrong beat.



  1. dawn said

    Oh, Nancy. Thanks. 🙂 My co-workers know that I don’t attend office parties (during the holidays or otherwise) mostly because all of their families are also invited and I feel incredibly out of place. Just not comfortable at all.

    I get a lot done during the holidays, though. So I look at it as quiet time like you do.

  2. FWIW, this programmer loves holidays and weekends. I work on work days, and do other stuff on other days. But maybe I’m just weird.

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