Christmas is no longer reserved for the 25th December: as soon as we turn the 11th page on our yearly calendars, the festivities are upon us. Which is great if you’re looking forward to the big day – but what if you’re not?
Feelings of loneliness can be seriously amplified during the festive season, and the pressure (and expectation) to have a great time leaves a lot of us wishing we could fast-forward to the New Year. But don’t despair: if you’re not looking forward to Christmas, there are loads of things you can do to up the festive spirit!
Spend Christmas your way
As the build-up to Christmas intensifies, a lot of us begin to dwell on the things we’re not so happy about. For some, not being able to spend the holidays with their nearest and dearest can weigh heavy on the heart at this time of year. For others, the very idea of spending Christmas with family can be the source of stress – because, no matter what the Christmas cards would have us believe, not every family sees eye to eye. There are also those who want to be alone at Christmas, for no other reason than they’ve earned the right to spend the festive period however they please.
Whatever your situation, deciding what it is that YOU want out of Christmas can make the preceding weeks much more manageable – and hopefully, far more enjoyable.
- If you’re worried about being lonely and someone extends an invite, snap it up; people wouldn’t ask if they didn’t want to spend the time with you. They might even be eager for a little extra company themselves! If you don’t have family or friends to make plans with, you might have neighbours in a similar situation who’d love to come round for a mince pie during December, or join you for dinner on the day itself.
- If family politics are weighing heavy on your mind, why not try to build a few bridges before the festive season starts? And if that’s not possible, give yourself some peace of mind by remembering that a lot of people act out of insecurity. Worried about warring with competitive grandparents? They must see how much the grandkids love you – so don’t rise to it. You get the picture.
- If you want a peaceful Christmas alone, it’s best to manage expectations. Explain how you’re feeling about the holidays to family and friends well in advance of the day; accept that people may naturally worry about you, but stick to your guns if you’re sure you want to be by yourself.
Festive season fillers
Filling your time in the run-up to Christmas can make the December days a lot more fun. Enjoying some (or all) of the festivities your local community may have to offer is a great way to beat the winter blues.
If you’re an Abbeyfield South Downs resident, our houses host lots of events to put you in the mood. From putting the decorations up to mulled wine and mince pies, or a lunch or house outing– we’ll help you to get social and soak up the holiday spirit. There is a slap-up Christmas lunch and presents to look forward to, plus our houses are holding a fabulous festive door competition (where you can really let your creativity bloom!).
We also love to involve the community, so houses often host Christmas cake and coffee mornings, carol concerts or a celebratory buffet on New Year’s Eve! Contact your local house to see what’s happening in your area.
If that’s not enough to keep you busy, you could try one of the following:
- Get into the spirit: Attending church services at this time of year can provide comfort, company, support and hope – even if you’re not religious.
- Learn something new: Whether you live in a city, a village, or you’re part of a care community, there are usually festive classes taking place throughout December – from wreath and candle making, to bread baking and cake making.
- Volunteer: Nothing puts our struggles into perspective like volunteering at Christmas time. Helping out in a soup kitchen, visiting those without relatives at a local hospital, or even just donating to charity can have a big impact.
- Reach out: If you are struggling with loneliness this season (or any other), there will be other people in your community who feel the same. Even if you’re not comfortable with inviting a neighbour round or organising an event of your own, look for community events happening near you.
Whatever your Christmas has in store, there’s always someone here to help you have the best time possible.
- www.thesilverline.org.uk A 24-hour helpline for older people, running 365 days a year
- www.gransnet.com A forum with debates and support, offering a sense of community, for the over 50s
- www.campaigntoendloneliness.org/about-the-campaign The campaign to end loneliness has plenty of resources and support
- www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice Age UK has advice and support on everything from loneliness and looking after yourself, to money and pensions
- www.reengage.org.uk/support-us/community-christmas/ Community Christmas organises festive season events for older people