The holidays are bittersweet for me. I try desperately to enjoy them and sometimes I’m successful. But, more often than not, they tend to be an annoying pebble in my shoe, reminding me with each step of where I seemingly fall on the totem pole.
I can’t remember the last time I spent Christmas or Thanksgiving with family in my own place — it must have been before college. Each holiday brings about another round of travel; if I’m not traveling to see family at their homes, I’m alone. The choice seems to be that “simple.” And, keeping it real, it sucks.
I know I’m not alone in feeling like that, I’ve talked to friends who seem to always have to be the “flexible ones” and leave their homes to visit others.
This year, since the hubster was working every night over Christmas, there wasn’t much of a point in me flying up to see him. With us traveling more to see each other, the logistics of another quick-turnaround-and-head-back trip to travel and see my family wasn’t in the cards. I’ve invited everyone down to Florida, the US mecca of warm vacations, but for some reason or another it never seems to work out. I try not to take it personally because sometimes it’s purely situational. But sometimes I’m left wondering how many times you invite people before you stop because it must be you because you smell or something?
The holidays have a way of doing that, you know? Problems are a bit magnified. Being alone or left out, you begin to question your own place in your family, your job, your life goals, your burrito from last night, your current choice in fuzzy socks; it can certainly suck you into the vortex of self-pity and doubt. It could have been you with your family, but it’s not, so you better suck it up and deal, chickadee.
So, for anyone else that finds themselves alone on the holidays, this is how I dealt with it.
Plan it all out. What you’re doing each day or what you’d like to accomplish, even if that is going to pick up a cornish hen, since that’s the only bird that’s just the right amount for a dinner for one. This was my day-by-day.
Christmas Eve Eve
Start the time off right — with a good, long walk.
I honestly don’t remember the last time I got home from work before 7 or 7:30. It must be months. So when the boss let us leave early today for the holiday, I ran a bunch of errands, came home, looked around…and said, “Now what?” What a reality check! I’ve had something to do each hour of my day for so long I honestly didn’t know what to do with my hands. #rickybobbyquoteftw So I went on a walk taking a path I haven’t taken since my injury in AUGUST. Relaxation, I’m coming for you this weekend! 🙌🏻
Join the masses at the grocery store to buy your meal-for-one. Laugh with another lady who is deeply annoyed she’s cooking for 11 and show empathy by waving your cornish hen leg at her as you part ways.
Go to your friends’ house while they are away visiting family to take care of their kitties and then freak out because you can’t find the one cat that needs to get a pill. Then find her and laugh with her then realize you’re laughing with a cat and cry a little inside.
Go on a virtual date with the hubster and see the movie Passengers.
Spend Christmas Eve with your friend’s family. If you’re lucky, they’ll be Colombian and show you new (awesome) traditions.
Head to kitty place again and decide that pussy can’t hide from you – success!
Workout on your new exercise bike and do crunches to prepare for the imminent dinner course.
Talk to your dad and step mom while they’re currently trying to get up an icy hill in Minnesota.
Open up the 2 gifts under your tree, one from your dad and one from your sister. Laugh at your husband who accidentally sent your gift to his current address, so you open up your (upcoming) birthday gift that he already sent instead.
Go to the pool in a Santa hat drinking a Bloody Mary.
FaceTime with your hubster and then the BFFs.
Then FaceTime your brother, sister-in-law and adorable niece who needed to show you all her (naked) Barbies. They were taking a bath, duh.
Call your sister who is also on her way to work in the ICU. (I can’t get away from you healthcare people!)
Make Buffalo Chicken Tater Tots, watch Bridget Jones’ Baby and hit the hay — Christmas is just another day.
Christmas Day (observed)
If you’re lucky, you get one more day
You crushed half those tots the night before, so hop on the bike again and do some more crunches.
The pool and Bloody Mary are calling your name again, this time lacking a typical Floridian afternoon downpour. Score!
Have kitty parents come over to pick up their house keys and spend some time laughing about how ridiculous med school and doctors are over a bottle o’ wine.
Cornish Hen time! Whip up some mashed potatoes and broccoli too for good measure.
Print more shit out for your Cuban adventure and hit the hay — Christmas Day (observed) is just another day.
Basically, keep busy. I tried to just take care of myself and not let my mind wander. I’ll admit – there were some tears. It would have been great to have been around family, but I got through it and think I tried to make the best of it.
I also know the nay-sayers will wag their judging and unsupportive fingers saying things like, “This is what you signed up for being a doctor’s spouse.” or “I’d love to have a few days off on my own! Sheesh!” Thanks for your unhelpful input, I’ll be sure to write it down and burn it later.
And if that’s not inspiring, perhaps some kind words from JK Rowling will be. She shares many of the same sentiments about the holidays, but expresses it more eloquently than I can:
Have you spent a holiday totally alone?
Cassie Carlile says
I just love you Caroline. You are not at all afraid to say it the way it is, and I totally admire that!! I wasn’t totally alone, but had a few pity parties by myself thinking about the family and kids back in mich, the festivities I was missing near and far …While I was at work taking care of other people’s families. I know I’m lucky to have such a great work family….But it’s still hard…. Especially when you feel like your on the opposite plane of every person in life…You definitely know how to do it up right, girl!! And do a great job at showing how all things are possible 🙂 I was also feeling like a subpar wife for working on the hubs 40th, but at least I got him home safely. Now I need to put my big girl pants on and get it together, cuz no one’s gonna join my pity party and I have to suck it up buttercup!!! Xoxo. Cheers to you my friend!!
Caroline Peterson says
Awww, Cassie. What would we do without you nurses and doctors, honestly? I totally get you, work family and biological family aren’t the same and even if they’re awesome, it still stings around the holidays. You’re doing awesome! 😀