Merry Christmas

By Shamus Posted Sunday Dec 25, 2016

Filed under: Notices 56 comments

Between the time I moved out of my parent’s house and the time I got married, I spent a few years living alone. The holidays are strange when you’re alone. You don’t want to decorate, because it feels like you’re decorating for yourself. You could cook a meal, but you’re just cooking for yourself, and you already do that every night. What else are you going to do? Sing Christmas carols to yourself? Maybe buy yourself a present? Get hammered on eggnog and watch Die HardOn Christmas Eve I watched Die Hard with my son. It was his first time seeing it. He seemed to like it well enough, although I don’t think it will be the Christmas Classic for his generation that it was for mine. by yourself?

Actually I guess that last one kind of works.

Aside from the religion and consumerism, this time of year is about family and friendship. That’s a good thing to celebrate. But if you’re alone, then the holiday can make you feel even more alone. It feels like everyone else is eating awesome food, swapping presents, singing carols, and watching kitschy Christmas movies together while you sit in your non-decorated place eating non-holiday food. Everyone else is doing something you aren’t and if you try to do anything festive on your own it end up feeling sad and forced, like Kevin McCallister making a fake party in Home Alone. Except unlike Kevin, not even evil Joe Pesci wants to visit you.

So to all my friends and family who live alone: I’m thinking of you. Hope you enjoy yourself, however you decide to spend the day.

To everyone who isn’t alone: What are you doing here? It’s Christmas. Stop reading my blog and go do holiday stuff. You can read this when you roll into work on Tuesday morning feeling hungover and tired.

Merry Christmas.



[1] On Christmas Eve I watched Die Hard with my son. It was his first time seeing it. He seemed to like it well enough, although I don’t think it will be the Christmas Classic for his generation that it was for mine.

From The Archives:

56 thoughts on “Merry Christmas

  1. Cuthalion says:

    I made a Merry Christmas forum thread before I saw this post. Oops lol.

    Merry Christmas, everybody!

    I introduced my spouse to Stargate SG-1 this year, and they got me this after we joked that Apophis-symbol jaffa cakes should exist.

    1. Neko says:

      That is awesome.

  2. MichaelGC says:

    I’m not alone this Christmas – I have a whole other person with me, which is obviously 100% extra people – but I have been, so I’m going to thoroughly ignore your instructions in the penultimate paragraph, if that’s OK. It’s easy enough these days to quickly swing by and check if any awesome folks have been reckoning awesome stuff!

    If there were a day I’d choose not to do that I’d make sure it was, I dunno, April 3 or October 17 or somesuch. What has October 17 ever done for me? Nuffin’.

    We’re all in this together!


    (Apologies if October 17 is your birthday or your wedding anniversary or similar. October 17 mileages will obviously vary. Just imagine I said, er, June 8 instead. I know, right? Now we’re talking.)

  3. Echo Tango says:

    Don’t tell me what to do!
    I’ve still got at least another hour of screwing around playing Invisible Inc before I need to wrap my present, and head over to my family’s house! :P

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    To everyone who isn't alone: What are you doing here? It's Christmas.

    Not for me.Still 2 weeks before it gets here.Because my country likes to be special.

    But happy holidays to most of the rest of the world.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Blimey, stylish! Do you get to do cheap Christmas shopping from other country’s Boxing Day sales? And so when’s New Year’s? Not October 17, I hope.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Technically,we get two new years,two weeks apart.Though only one of those is a regular national holiday(the standard 1st january),while the other one is just a day off for some people.But we do have new years sales for the whole of december.And,for whatever reason,we had black friday sales for the past two years.Despite that day meaning absolutely nothing here.

        1. Zak McKracken says:

          Black Friday has turned into a worldwide epidemic. In Germany its name isn’t even translated (Just like Halloween, another reimport. I mean, nobody celebrates Allerheiligen, right?”). In London, there have been proper US-style brawls and stuff. I’ve continued to ignore the whole theater. Don’t mind your fancy holiday festivities, but I don’t think we need to adopt it all. Also I really do mind the way in which St. Martin’s day is cannibalized by Halloween.

      2. 4th Dimension says:

        At least in my parts EXTR3M sales aren’t really a thing. Sure all shops start offering holiday deals about half way through December in preparation for New Year (which is the gift giving part of the holidays). Also ordering things cross border from countries that celebrate earlier (which would probably mean Croatia) is not a thing you can do and I don’t think there are services/sites that offer such services.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Weeeellll,technically you CAN import stuff from surrounding countries that are cheaper at that time,its just that you cannot get it over the border in a legal fashion.

          1. 4th Dimension says:

            Of course you can go there on your own and buy, but then you will be paying for gas, but I was more referring to the fact that there are allmost no services that will send you stuff from neighboring countries one way or other. Unless it’s something one off if they are willing to send it by bus or something, although post would work perfectly fine but for some reason people don’t use it.

          2. MichaelGC says:

            I’m no expert, but I’d have thought that the EU foundational principle of the free movement of goods would make it illegal to prevent you from ordering from another EU member state. But there may be complications – perhaps temporary ones given accession was fairly recent – and as I say, I’m no expert.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              Still just a candidate for the eu.Though montenegro did make euro their national currency a long time ago.

              1. MichaelGC says:

                Ah! My bad: I was getting rather stupidly mixed up.

              2. 4th Dimension says:

                Not that it bloody helps since it’s not the currency that is the issue. It’s actually more likely that you will be able to order something in Serbia, since it’s a MUCH bigger market and therefore there is more incentive to sign contracts enabling for a service to be done there.

                Also since it is a bigger market, looking from here, it looks like they do have actual working in country e-shopping sites. Here something like that would simply not be economically feasible.

    2. krellen says:

      Ah, Orthodox Christmas, for when you want to celebrate New Years before Christmas.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Its great for kids,since they have their winter holidays at that time.For working adults however,its comical.We get days off after the new years,then we work 3 days,then we get another day off next week.Its great if you plan your vacation though,since you can get two weeks for almost the price of one.

      2. 4th Dimension says:

        Well that is not strange to me :). First we do the gift giving (and partying for those so inclined) for the newyear, the secular part of holidays, then for Christmas it’s time for bonfire making on squares (well it’s newer addition to the celebrations since not everyone has a wood burning stove anymore in apartments) using Christmas logs and massive expenditure of anything that goes BANG. From firecrackers to dynamite in some parts. That is not to say that New Year is not blow away. Then kids get another opportunity to milk more gifts/cash from adults by visiting houses of family friends and family early on Christmas morning. The custom used to be that they would be gifted by families sticking coins into oranges that they bring (no idea how that came to be) but in my days you would simply get cash. Nice cold hard cash that you could then use to buy what you ACTUALLY want, and not socks. Although you might still get socks IN ADDITION to cash.
        Also general family gathering for the Christmas lunch and such.

        I unlike Daemian would not know exactly how it’s for normally employed people since I work in education so we do get time for off during half of the winter break (which lasts three weeks of January starting on new year), before we should start returning back to work ableit with a lighter work load.

        Basically for me you are strange with your strange Christmas and holidays starting early ways. ;)

  5. deiseach says:

    My grandmother would frequently profess to not liking Christmas, which I put down to her generally cantankerous nature. When I was old enough, she told me why – everyone she had grown up with was dead, and not even the undoubted pleasure she took from the grandchildren could override that.

    Merry Christmas, one and all.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Aye right. And anyone who feels lonely despite being in a large group?: thinking of you today, too. (Emphasis on ‘too’.)

  6. Cinebeast says:

    I finished my third book, and Santa got me Final Fantasy 15, so I’m all set.

    It helps to have a big family relaxing alongside me, though.

    Merry Christmas.

  7. krellen says:

    Thanks Shamus. Hope you and yours have a merry day.

  8. Dt3r says:

    I spent several years living 900 miles away from the rest of my family, so I really appreciate today’s post. Merry Christmas, Shamus!

  9. Paul Spooner says:

    I came in to wish you a merry Christmas Shamus! God’s Light has driven the darkness from the world. Rejoice!

    Good thoughts on being alone during the holidays. Can you offer any advice on how to be available to be surrogate friends and family for those who want it but don’t know where to get it?

  10. Bloodsquirrel says:

    I’m hear because my family operates at 150% volume at all times, and I need a break from the mental fatigue.

    1. Iny says:

      Same. Christmas sensory-overload panic attacks are no fun.

      1. Baron Tanks says:

        Spread the word! Sounds like my get together every year. Good luck brothers!

  11. Thanks for this. I’m currently home alone for Christmas and going into work in a couple of hours. But I won’t let it get me down!

    Merry Christmas Shamus! :)

  12. Christopher says:

    Merry Christmas!

  13. MichaelG says:

    I’m home alone, and sick as well. So boo hoo for me.

    I was planning on stealing the Dr. Who Christmas special, but the preview looked so bad, I’m afraid to watch it. Has anyone seen it?

    And I could warm up a frozen turkey pot pie and play video games, but that’s kind of pathetic. Maybe I’ll go for a drive.

    Merry Christmas to all!

    1. Andy_Panthro says:

      I enjoyed the Xmas Who special, although it is unlikely to go down as a classic episode! There’s a few good jokes, and it’s just nice to see Peter Capaldi again, since it was a year since the last episode!

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    And of course,christmas wouldnt be complete without bad star trek,so lets all enjoy some SFDebris:

    The Infinite Vulcan

  15. Galad says:

    For my non-religious parents Christmas has always been seen as an annoying religious thing. For me, it’s the same, plus a tedious consumerist holiday. So I visited my parents as if it’s just every other weekend when I do. I’m fine with playing video games in the few days in between now and New Year’s. That being said, I’m very glad that once more, I dodged spending New Year’s Eve by myself. THAT’s one thing that would hurt me, at least a little.

  16. sofawall says:

    I’m here because some industries just keep on trucking, so I am at work.

    Specifically, I am sitting in a headend with the door open making sure nobody comes in who shouldn’t, because the AC died and we need the cold outside air so people keep having internet. Pretty laid-back job, which explains the other half of why I am here.

    1. Sleeping Dragon says:

      At work too, no rest for the emergency services either (though it’ll hopefully be a calm day).

  17. Leslee says:

    Thank you, Shamus!

    As an orphaned only child who is married to another only child, I find the holidays to be unbearably dull. We have each other, but no one else.

    No one calls us. No one visits us. Nowhere for us to go and nothing to do.

    We play video games all day and eat frozen dinners.

    Yeah, it’s depressing.

    1. Galad says:

      FWIW, your comments here are always awesome :>

      1. Leslee says:

        Thank you, Galad! I really appreciate that! I didn’t think anyone even noticed, to be honest.

    2. Phill says:

      Defrosting your dinners before eating might improve your day :)

      But yeah, I can imagine that if you don’t have any family to get together with, then a holiday where everything is closed, no-one is around because they are all busy worth their families, and all the media is banging on about the joy of families and togetherness may be pretty grim.

      1. Leslee says:

        That’s exactly how it feels, Phill.

        And yeah, I guess I should stop trying to eat my dinner with an ice pick, eh? :-D

    3. Zak McKracken says:

      My parents have four children, and each of them have two to three siblings, most of which have children, too, and they also have the largest house in the extebded family.

      This means that for Christmas eve, our house hosted huuge numbers of relatives. that was fine for a while but at some point my mother refused to organize those things because she needed another holiday just to recover.

      These day, most of those relatives stay away but it’s still kinda stressfull, so I’m actually completely fine to have moved far enough away and just celebrating with my significant other.

      We’re not religous, really, but it’s always a good opportunity to clean the place, decorate it nicely, create some atmoshphere, cooksomething proper that we don’t usually take the time for, surprise each other with some presents (aim: find something small and cheap that will amaze the other person and is completely unexpected. We usually fall short on one or two of those but it is anice game to play). The rest of the time, we take for each other. A stark contrast to regular live when even most time on weekends is filled with what needs to be done, not what we like to do.

      I think I get why you’d think you’re missing something with not having a large family around but in my case I’m actually fine having Christmas without them and rather visiting most members at another time in the year. To, me this is second only to being a small child in a large family, oblivious of the stress everyone else had. But that is not going to come back :(

  18. Confanity says:

    I guess that’s one of the benefits of being Jewish? – You can do whatever you want on December 24th and 25th and it doesn’t need to be all weird; it’s just a little breather. I went out on a drive with my dad and the roads were super clear.

    Happy Christmas to everyone celebrating it, of course! – And Chag Chanukkah Sameach, Joyous Kwanzaa, a pleasant Dies Natalis Solis Invicti, a very nice Pancha Ganapati, a super Yule, a spooky Decemberween, and of course a glorious Festivus for the rest of us.

    1. Niriel says:

      And if you’re in North-West Tamriel, happy Saturalia!

    2. Mike S. says:

      After the manner of our people, we observed the holiday with the traditional movie and Chinese restaurant.

      (Though the crowding I’ve observed in recent years suggests to me that people who should be home with their Christmas hams and whatnot are moving in on our bit! :-) )

    3. psychic programmer says:

      And happy holiday to all Pastafarians along with Halloween for all the programmers and discrete Mathematicians out there.

  19. Jingleman says:

    Merry Christmas!

    1. MichaelGC says:

      I keep thinking I can hear a one-horse open sleigh or similar.

  20. Sleeping Dragon says:

    Around here it’s the Home Alone series that has the status of “The Christmas Classic”. A couple years ago the station that usually airs it did not put it on the holiday schedule and people all but rioted in the streets until the appropriate changes were made (I kid you not, actual parliament members made public statements expressing their disappointment with not respecting tradition and such).

  21. Zaxares says:

    I never realized how much I needed a post like this until I read it. So thank you, Shamus, for posting it. :)

    From a guy who’s with family over Christmas, but still feels very alone.

  22. GavintheGrey says:

    I don’t comment much here, mostly just read/watch, but as someone who just spent their first Christmas away from home in a country that doesn’t really celebrate Christmas, it’s been a weird holiday season, so this was nice to read. Merry Christmas and happy holidays, everybody!

  23. Crystalgate says:

    I live alone, but I don’t really recognize anything this article is saying. Why would being alone mean I don’t want to decorate? The Christmas tree looks pretty even if I’m alone. The Christmas food tastes great alone as well. Now, I am doing less work than I would have done if I had a family. For example, I don’t bother with the traditional Christmas food I don’t really like so much. Once the food that I’m not particular fond of is removed from the equation, there is a lot less cooking to do. Ditto for other Christmas related work.

    I should mention that I cut out on a lot of traditional Christmas activities even back when I wasn’t alone. For example, I went pretty light on the presents thing as soon as I hit adulthood, if not even earlier. If I don’t have money, I can’t buy many presents and if do have money, chance is I’ve already bought what I really want, making it hard for someone else to buy anything for me that I will really like.

    I treat Christmas as a nice excuse to get some variation from the ordinary for a few days. If you’re alone, don’t go thinking about what Christmas should be about, think about what you want to do. Heck, you may want to do that anyway, I’ve heard way to many stories of people who in the pursuit of the Christmas Spirit, stresses themselves out and end up feeling the stress rather than the Christmas Spirit.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Good advice, I reckon! It can be tricky to get yourself into that mindset, though. And I guess Shamus’ comments weren’t meant to cover everyone. (We have a national holiday on Tuesday and I don’t drink, for example.) But you’re right, I’d say: being able to channel your thinking in the kinds of ways you describe will be useful all year round, and not just at Christmastime!

  24. Jeysie says:

    This is pretty much why I now consider the holidays as meaning, “Now I can’t get anything done errand-wise on the days I would usually get them done, requiring awkward workarounds instead. Assuming I don’t forget about the workarounds and thus leave myself even more screwed over having to now do things literally last minute the second after the holidays/trying to stretch out supplies because I didn’t buy enough beforehand to properly last the entire time/other various issues caused by literally everything being closed for two days minimum.”

    Having to go grocery shopping in the pouring rain because the store was closed on the Sunday I would usually go (which of course had beautiful weather, figures) and we wouldn’t have enough food to stretch the next two days otherwise. Having to pray I can book a bus for mom’s doctor appointment on the day of the appointment because the bus company is closed today on the day before when I would usually call and we forgot to do it Friday. Having to pray mom’s drugs stretch long enough because I can’t call for new prescriptions today and we actually couldn’t do that Friday and it might take up to three business days even after we do call. Etc.

    I know this sounds kind of killjoy, but it really is frustrating when stuff needs to get done except now you have this big two-day roadblock in the way. You can’t even call it a vacation because you’re busy being anxious the entire time.

  25. Mattias42 says:

    Honestly never got Die Hard as a Christmas classic.

    A classic in the action genera, sure, but…Christmas? The movie with a ton of terrorist killing and being killed, bombs, and feet mutilation?

    Might me being European, though. And old enough to remember Northern Ireland constantly on the news, if you know what I mean. Kinda took the fun romp aspect out of it when you could imagine something similar happening on the evening news.

    1. Mike S. says:

      It’s set at Christmas, has a fair amount of Christmas music, and the throughline is an estranged husband reconnecting with his wife when he attends her office Christmas party, renewing their mutual appreciation and understanding. There’s just a little more automatic weapons fire than in, say, “Love, Actually”.

  26. Wide And Nerdy ♤ says:

    With the tv boxes/sticks/smart TV apps, you can put on a Christmas music and scenery channel or app or whatever. Allows you to inject a little christmas into your environment without all the todo. Its what I do.

    If I didn’t have so many Christmas family events to go to in town, I’d probably get a little tree. Something that could fit on a table. Maybe look for some christmas mods/dlc and play the games that have them (Skyrim and the Fallouts have plenty of mods like this.)

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