And other answers to unsolicited questions.
“I’m alone for the holidays, what can I do?” — Lonely Lou
Congratulations. You are living the dream. Christmas is pretty intense. Maybe it would be nice if we only did it every four years like the Olympics. Or, more realistically, just on even years. Doing this brutal Capitalism Festival every year makes it kind of a drag. But you can get through it!
You could pretend it isn’t the holidays at all. Get some food ahead of time and treat December 25th like an unexpected snow day. Get some books from the library. Maybe something engrossing and long like the Game of Thrones books. Or Harry Potter. Or all the Little House on the Prairie books. And just go to town reading alone in your place, completely ignoring the insanity of the outside world.
If you don’t think about Christmas, it doesn’t happen. Everyone else in the universe doesn’t exist when you aren’t around. We literally freeze in place, waiting for you to emerge from your apartment. Don’t worry about it. We love being frozen in place. But if you don’t go outside, you won’t have to think about Christmas and yearn for whatever ghosts of Christmas Past you think will satisfy your loneliness. Nothing will. We’ve been trained since we were young that people are the solution to loneliness. When the solution for not being lonely is being happier being alone.
Watch DVDs! And crap on Netflix. If you haven’t watched “The OA,” you could go for that. Ignore Twitter, Facebook, email, Instagram. It will just be people humblebragging through their holidays. People with families, presents, food, miseries, unfulfilled desires. People are all secretly miserable. Especially the happy-seeming ones.
You don’t need mistletoe and ho ho ho. Midnight mass is really late, you could be sleeping. You don’t need Christmas. There will always be another one. It will creep up on you before you know it. It starts in October, just before Halloween and ends in mid-January. It’s endless. It’s supposed to be magical. Like, you’re supposed to buy your spouse a car and put a big bow on it. That’s pretty magical. But you don’t need this. You don’t need cards or trees or lights or wreaths.
And you certainly don’t need other people. Hell is other people said that French guy in that play. You are good enough. And if you fill your life with good things, you’ll be happy, no matter who you’re with. Or in spite of it. Eat well, see great movies. Seeing a movie by yourself is great. You can just leave if it sucks! You don’t have to ask anyone else what they thought of it! You don’t have to listen to their deconstruction of the character of Chewbacca. Because it’s just you!
If you yearn for connections during the holidays, just literally start talking to anyone. On the subway, at the supermarket. Anyplace. About 5 minutes into any holiday conversation you will once again wish you were alone. Have you ever spoken to anyone on a plane? Don’t do it. You will become their plane buddy for the flight. You will have to help them get their bag down out of the overhead compartment. This is why they invented headphones.
Christmas is knocking, but you surely don’t have to let it in. All Christmas skeptics are plagued by visits from ghosts who are supposed to torment you into liking Christmas by beating you about the head and shoulders with awkward memories of Christmases in all directions. If I had one wish for you this holiday season, it would be for you to get the rest you need. To put up with all the nonsense.
I’d like the teach the world to be alone. In a place without holidays. Where the only sign that it’s “the most wonderful time of the year” is the mittens on your Dunkin Donuts cup. If someone could explain “The OA” to me that would be a Christmas miracle.
Jim Behrle lives in Jersey City, NJ and works at a bookstore.