Waking up to an empty apartment on Christmas morning is a lot like waking up in one of those tired Christmas movies where everyone in your life has forgotten who you are, including you. I’ve done this three times, hoping that this feeling would dissipate instead of doing what it actually does, which is linger hauntingly. I can tell you that having a pet helps. Stocking the fridge with Christmas favorites (even though now you buy vegan eggnog instead of regular eggnog) helps. Leaning into the idea of a festive Christmas alone helps. Trust me.
In the past, I’ve found myself compensating for my own lack of familial ties around Christmastime by visiting friends and their family; I’ve concluded that this only makes me feel worse. More alone. And more aware of my loneliness (insert 1998 Britney Spears lyrics here). Don’t get me wrong—I’ll commit to a Christmas Eve dinner party or a late brunch the day after Christmas but on the actual day, it’s just me, my veggnog (I’m not actually vegan, just vegetarian), and an entire day’s worth of low-budget Christmas films.
This year, I felt better prepared than I’ve ever been. I called my family in the morning and opened presents with them via FaceTime—a ritual of ours—before crawling into my pillow fort with my pup and our treats. I was content knowing that this was how we would spend the rest of our day. I even added Snow Buddies to the movie lineup so he would feel included. It was quiet and quaint and perfectly comforting.
When we finally took a break from the movies, I put on my favorite Christmas playlist—OK, fine, this is just an infinite loop of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want For Christmas”—and baked Christmas cookies to deliver as gifts to my friends the following day. I’m cute AF, I know.
I didn’t change out of my pajamas once and if that’s not the perfect day, I don’t know what is. Well, I suppose being able to fly home to see my family would have been ideal. But that wasn’t in the cards this year. In fact, as I get older, travel further away from home, and work harder, spending the holidays with my family just isn’t the norm anymore.
As a young adult, that’s difficult to grasp. Those first few Christmases alone will suck immensely. But like with most things in life, you get better at it. It’s OK to be good at being alone (I am) but it doesn’t mean you have to be lonely.