December 24, 2014

Creating Your Own DIY Christmas Retreat.

walking snowy woods alone


I’m in my forties, and for the first time in my life I’m not going home to my folks for Christmas.

I’m staying put.

Staying in my own home, possibly alone—and I’m relishing the very thought of it.

I’m not knocking the traditional family Christmas day; I’ve enjoyed a great many and hope to enjoy many more in the years to come. But this year, it’s not for me. And for those who will also be alone—whether out of choice or circumstance—I want to say: Embrace it!

Because the tradition is to spend Christmas with family, we have become socially conditioned to believe that spending this day alone must be sad and lonely. The reality though is that this idea is no more true than a fairy tale. And I’m not buying it.

“Christmas alone is neither good nor bad, but thinking makes it so.” ~ William Shakespeare (ish)

This Christmas is going to be my mini-retreat.

In fact, it may be very mini. I’ll have the company of my housemate for a couple of hours in the morning and a friend may (or may not) join me for dinner. I suspect though that she’s not going to come. I suspect that she’s happily plotting her own hibernation—spot the kindred spirit—and so I’m anticipating spending most of the day with just my cat for company.

And this idea is just as delightful to me as sharing the day with a good friend.

To be honest, if she comes, it won’t really change how I’ll spend the day in any way. We’ll eat some nice food, enjoy a few drinks and relax in front of the fire. Go for a walk. Maybe watch a film. Maybe just chat. Maybe just sit and stare into the flames. Probably a combination of all of these possibilities.

If I’m alone, I’ll do the same.

I am completely unattached to either outcome; either way I’ll be relaxing and completely ignoring any expectations others may have around what I should be eating, wearing, watching, listening to or otherwise doing.

I’m rejecting the hype around the kind of Christmas we should be experiencing. Because this is just a story. A glitzy, glamorous story. A story that stresses many people out as they try to live up to its associated expectations. A story that we are not obliged to live out. At all.

We get to choose and create our own Christmas experience. This year, I choose to view Christmas as a spiritual retreat. A total chill out day to set me up in body, mind and spirit for all that the new year has in store.

Care to join me?

If you’re going to be alone this Christmas day (out of choice, or otherwise), here is a list of things you could do to create your own DIY Christmas Retreat:

• Sleep until you wake
• Skype with family and friends
• Go for a walk
• Go for a run
• Join in your local Christmas swim
• Eat nice food
• Drink nice drinks
• Watch the fire
• Watch a Christmas movie
• Listen to decidedly un-Christmassy music
• Meditate
• Reflect on the year gone by and your hopes for the year to come
• Read
• Write
• Nap
• Chat with your cat (mine chats back)
• Dance
• Do yoga or tai chi
• Sing
• Use up all the hot water having a super long hot bath
• Catch up with your favourite TV series via box-set or Netflix
• Whatever else takes your fancy

In my opinion, the key to transforming Christmas from any old day into a day of spiritual renewal is to only do what we choose. All day long. Just ask “what do I want to do now?” Abandon the “should do’s” and choose from the “could do’s”.

It’s ok to go solo and have a quiet Christmas. And it’s ok to reframe an unchosen day alone into a day to appreciate just as much as if it were by choice.

Here’s to Christmases of choice—both traditional and alternative.

Whatever kind of day you’re facing, I wish you a happy Christmas—whatever that means to you at this time.


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Author: Hilda Caroll 

Apprentice Editor: Keeley Milne / Editor: Renée Picard 

Photo: Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho at Flickr 


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