How to Survive Christmas

Some of us (actually, quite a few of us) detest the holidays. If you are single and childless, the constant commercial emphasis on family can make it seem like there’s a flashing neon LOSER sign pointing right at you, even if you cherish your purposely chosen independent existence. And if you’re not Christian, well, that’s another aspect of Christmas that you can’t appreciate. Throw in the sappy music that we’ve all heard thousands of times; it usually starts playing in stores just after Halloween. And then, there’s the ever-present reminder to buy, buy, buy; that also usually starts in stores around Halloween. All the stoppage of normal activities and the travel challenges due to the predictable bad weather add to the stress. What’s an intentionally single, childless, non-materialistic, non-religious person like me to do?

First of all, I go for a walk. There’s a foot of snow on the ground at my house right now, and it’s 13 degrees out, but I will nevertheless bundle up and go for a walk every day. Fortunately, I live close to miles of green belts and trails, and nature always soothes my jangled nerves and jumpy brain. The bare tree branches reveal bird and squirrel nests, and I like to watch the animals that are flitting about. Yesterday I saw a black squirrel leaping from one snowy tree to another. A flock of noisy varied thrushes was excitedly pecking away at apples still clinging to a tree; I’ve never witnessed that before.

Photo by James Wheeler on

I try to do things with friends. This doesn’t always work out so well, because a lot of them have families and are happily sucked into that holiday vortex and disappear for days, but there’s always someone who is eager to get out. I hope that families who get together actually do something other than giving gifts. I don’t remember a single Christmas from childhood for the gifts, but I do remember a few with special activities, like playing games or building snow people together.

I might give small gifts to children or the few people I know who actually need something, but I mostly resist the urge to buy more stuff that my relatives and friends don’t need. Instead, I give a nice card that includes a promise of time to help friends and family with something—an evening or day of childcare for a young couple, a miniature golf outing or beach day for kids, a helping hand with household chores or remodeling projects, a chauffeured ride for an elderly relative to visit a beloved friend in another town. Charities receive most of my year-end funds.

And I remind myself that this, too, will pass. After all, Christmas comes and goes every year. New Year’s is more my kind of holiday; a happy, hopeful start to the next year. Whatever you’re doing this holiday season, I hope you’re doing it with joy. Now, I’ve got to go out for a walk in the snow and enjoy the birds.

7 thoughts on “How to Survive Christmas

  1. I can see where you are coming from. As a married person with family who isn’t religious- I love the songs. The fun ones that are quick-paced with witty lyrics. I don’t start listening to them until December though. One month is enough. I purchase gifts all year long, not during the shopping frenzy. When I see something that reminds me of a friend or family member, I purchase it. Or if a daughter or one of their children mentions something they’d like to have, I’ll purchase it and tuck it away for Christmas or a birthday. I give because I want to. But I also dislike the hype and commercialism. But I love the magic of Santa. I understand where you are coming from and it is why just like there are so many different books and stories for different interests, each person has their own preference for holidays. Hang in there the New Year is around the corner. 😉


    1. That’s the best way to give gifts, Paty–presents that are meaningful to the recipients! Too many adults are convinced they need to give a gift to everyone they know, and then we all end up with a lot of “stuff” that gets passed on to someone else who doesn’t want it, or tossed into the trash or Goodwill box. You’re a smart woman!

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  2. If you’re tired of sappy Christmas songs, I recommend The 12 Pains of Christmas by Twisted Sister, and a Redneck’s 12 Days of Christmas by Jeff Foxworthy. Both are hilarious.


  3. I found myself nodding along as I read your post. I too am childless, a recent widow, most of my family gone, and not inclined to the frenzy that has overtaken what should be a time of reflection and recommitment. But I let the craziness go on around me and enjoy the time with friends. I no longer engage in gift-giving—we all have way too much stuff—but I slow down for a couple of weeks and enjoy it along with my friends.


  4. I have a family, and I am a Christian. I hate the holiday vortex and refuse to be sucked into the mess. I avoid all of those stupid holiday parties where people give gifts that will go to Goodwill or, even worse, be tossed into the trash. I hate when the stores start playing sappy music because I know the people around me will start acting rude. I refuse to spend money I don’t on stuff nobody wants. Can i join your club?


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