The 12 Days of Christmas traditionally begin on Christmas Day….and this year (2020), our Social-Distanced 12 Days of Christmas is especially challenging, because the season holds so many memories, traditions and emotions. For 20 years, up to just four years ago, I had (like many of you, before COVID) a home during Christmas Eve/Day that was filled with family and friends, as well as employees/colleaques that had no where else special to be …along with great food and LOVE. The first year following Henry’s & Ricky’s memorial, I was naturally alone and immersed in grief; but, eventually I figured out how to hold on to the joy of our life together…of which Christmas was a big part. Note: They were both born on Christmas Day, which means my orchestrated celebrations were huge—both in size & duration, LOL!
So, for the upcoming Social-Distanced 12 days of Christmas, this blog post shares THREE THINGS that help me experience the joy of the season, despite the fact that I am now alone (like many of you) . I offer these easy ideas with the hope that you will be inspired to hold on to the Magic of Christmas & SPARKLE, despite the separations …that we ALL are experiencing (in varying degrees).
Oh, one more thing: I prefer to start with Christmas EVE!
Perhaps some you remember (as I do) the many Christmas Eve’s dedicated to assembling complex children’s toys (into the night) so they could be placed under the tree before dawn. Others may remember the last minute hustle through crowds of other last-minute-shoppers in your local town or shopping center. All of us (I wager) remember at least a couple Christmas Eves when we had to surreptitiously wrap the gift(s) we agreed not to purchase, LOL . Regardless, with lots of shopping done on-line this year (e.g. Shopify data shows an increase of 76% in sales over last year’s black Friday weekend, and Amazon reported a 60% increase)we all were left with plenty of down time at home, for wrapping/shipping gifts. This means, your Christmas Eve can probably commence from your couch or favorite living room chair. So, relax and join me anytime with your hot cocoa, tea, spike egg-nog or wine…and read about the TOP THREE IDEAS that work for me.
#1 Focus on Others…anyone but yourself!
Some counseling gurus suggest looking inward to sort through your complex social-distanced feelings of sadness, while others suggest you talk about it with your significant other—UGH! Some even suggest you cry it out—No thanks, that would take too long! I say focus on others, or someone else; actually, anyone other than yourself. Maybe you can cook a meal for an elderly neighbor. Maybe you can offer to assemble some of those motorized cars/toys for young parents (warning: electronics are involved.) Perhaps there is a home that needs a Christmas wreath or lights? You can also just pick up your phone and call the elderly, the lonely, or the sick… to wish them Merry Christmas? If you look OUTward, you will see lots of opportunities to bring the Christmas spirit alive. As for me, the last couple of years, I designate Christmas Eve as the time I start to assemble CHRISTMAS GIFT BAGS for Colleagues & Friends. Of course, it’s quite a job without any of the gentle restraints that would be suggested by my late spouse (I can still hear him, LOL). This year, I have two rooms (yup, 2) each with a different gift-bag theme and piles of their own stuffers. So, I will be busy for a few days.
#2 Wear Something Christmas-y
Be it an ugly Christmas Sweater that makes you laugh or a comfy pair of Christmas Pajamas that makes you smile….put something on that is Christmas -y! In my experience, it is impossible to feel melancholy when you are dressed silly! I think there may be a quote to support my belief: “Clothes make the man/woman”, LOL
#3 Turn on some Christmas Music & SING
The health benefits of singing have been documented for over a two decades. For example: Singing BOOSTS OUR IMMUNE SYSTEM and LOWERS BLOOD PRESSURE. There was also a joint study, conducted by Yale and Harvard, which showed (in their Connecticut research group) that singing leads many to a LONGER LIFE. Also, if you’re religious, the Bible has hundreds of references to singing…including Christ singing songs of praise after the Last Supper. Most importantly, FOR EVERYONE: SINGING RELEASES ENDORPHINS & ONXYTOCIN, which change our BRAIN CHEMISTRY TO MAKE US FEEL GOOD….i.e. releasing the same combination of brain chemicals as SEX or a lot of Chocolate, LOL
Since I am on the topic of music, I have one final BONUS Suggestion for those of you, who are blessed to have one other loved one with you -> DANCE! It’s one of the things I miss most since my Henry passed: Dancing with him. So, as that country song says: “When you have the chance, DANCE”.