There’s a saying that you can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends and at the risk of sounding self congratulatory, I would say that I have chosen very well indeed.
Like so many, where I am now is not near to where I was born, or educated, nor is it near my siblings. Instead, I am in a different part of the country. As a result, once my own family grew up and spread their wings, I found myself creating new ways and new thoughts about how best to fill the traditional family times.
Recently, I spoke to an older acquaintance who is contemplating a Christmas alone. His adult children are off at their partner’s homes or at his ex wife’s and he is considering what Christmas might be like. He asked me about my plans. This happens to be a year when I will have time with both my adult kids and also with their dad. Last year I spent it with friends.
At any rate, this gentleman has understood the importance of making a proactive effort to gather with others on a day that is meant to be spent in community and in a joyous fashion. So, for the second year in a row, he is inviting those interested in the social activity group to which we both belong, to join him at his home for a festive gathering. Last year he had twenty two people join him. I say, kudos to him.
As for me, well I am taking it one Christmas or traditional holiday at a time. I suspect, nope, I know, that I am fortunate to have friends that will welcome me with open arms and hearts if I find myself facing a dinner or day alone. Just as they would, if the situation were reversed. The beauty of it, is that we are connected enough to understand what being alone would be like and also the simplicity of opening to the basic human need of being somewhere where you are known and wanted.
Of course I have to share the responsibility of looking after my own needs and of understanding there are lots of different ways to be there for others. As a woman, I suppose that I have been socially geared to look for ways to be of service to others. We don’t always do the best job at identifying and meeting our own needs. Doing so has been one of my life lessons contributing to my happiness.
While it is not always easy to be surrounded by incessant Christmas messages of the expectation of large family gatherings and presents and holiday perfection; it can be tempered by choosing your own experience of the season. I am indeed fortunate to have developed strong and loving friendships. It has meant that not only have I enjoyed them during the best of times, I have also been able to rely on them in some of the most challenging.
Nothing will replace the memories of Christmases with family, yet so much of our lives can be spent away from them, that it behooves us to create new kinds of relationships. The quality of those tend to reflect back what we have put into them and while opposites may attract, I know that so do like minded.
As December 25th approaches once again, I am aware of the real gifts in my life, which are the friends made and kept over so many years. We chose each other and I have to say, didn’t we choose well?
As always, I would be interested to know what you have found. Leave a comment if you feel moved to do so.