Tag Archives: Christmas Alone

Only Child deals with a mixed Christmas

Only Child likes the Christmas tradition of gift giving

Only Child likes  gift giving

It’s going to take extra effort to get through this Christmas because I’m feeling the pain of being what I refer to as an “only person” (no partner, etc.). I think the pain here is coming from real physical pain and having to deal with it alone. It’s been a bad year for me with health issues but lately something more has been brewing and one of these physical pains can partly be blamed on having no partner and no car, i.e., having to cart heavy bags of groceries in several trips – now my right shoulder hurts. That should go away if I take it easy. I may be able to carry my purse on my left shoulder and refrain from buying heavy groceries until the weekend. But if we get all this snow that’s forecast for Boxing Day, it will create problems and more aloneness.

I have no one near here to shovel snow for me (and this winter, so far, I can afford to pay someone a reasonable fee to do so). So guess who will have to be out there shovelling snow – probably two sessions in the next couple of days? Not Santa Claus or any of his helpers.

The other situation is that my son and I were planning to meet for dinner on Boxing Day in downtown Toronto (somewhat a central location for both of us). Today he has a gaggle of friends from overseas staying with him and he is cooking Christmas dinner there. His girlfriend is off visiting her sister out of country because of a family issue there. With this snow coming, my son’s and my Boxing Day dinner might be postponed. Although I don’t mind having to postpone if necessary, I do mind now because for Christ’s sake it is Christmas (pun intended). I’m spending today, Christmas alone and the odd Christmas this happens it doesn’t bother me. But then I don’t have all these pains every Christmas (the other one in my foot I’m suspecting is fibromyalgia, at least from the symptoms and connections to another disease I have). Reading about that online is enough to make you depressed. Oh, that is a symptom of possible fibromyalgia.

So, to get over the hump of this season’s next few days, I will call my friends and my son – perhaps we can have the “snow” option of rescheduling Boxing Day dinner. I will also email friends and family from out of town, be grateful for the gifts I have received, prepare my traditional Christmas dinner (the first one – the second family one comes in January when Martin and Alison will be here for a belated Christmas dinner), savour it and the wine and eggnog – try not to overdue eating chocolate and ice cream, listen to Christmas music, read the current mystery novel on my Kobo, and remember Christmases past with my late parents when I was growing up. I’ll leave you with this remembrance of my childhood Christmas.

Christmas Day began with breakfast and tearing into the stockings hung on the mantle. Then it was the obligatory Christmas Mass at Church (a tradition I no longer follow as the only thing that moves me there is the music and I can get that on my stereo). Once back home we dived into the presents and I think it was the sharing that I liked best. When we stayed home for Christmas dinner Mom liked to try roasting a different type of bird each year – sometimes a greasy goose, sometimes a duck, sometimes a chicken, and sometimes a turkey. Some years she had to cook the goose another day because we were off to my aunt and uncle’s on dad’s side of the family for Christmas dinner. We travelled by public transit (no car) and when we got there I’d hang out with my three cousins.  I don’t remember the dinners, but remember this as I write in my memoir:

I gaze around the living room beyond the corner where we are sitting. The grownups are involved in their grownup talk, but my aunt sees me staring at the tree in the opposite corner. Three presents, like lost parcels, lie underneath the tree.

“Those are for Felicity,” my aunt says. “Her birthday is December 26, so she can’t open her birthday presents until tomorrow.” (Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, Copyright 2012 Sharon A. Crawford)

Merry Christmas.


Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Christmas, Family and Friends, Health, Help and Support, Living alone, Mom and Dad, Only child memoir, Pain, Sharon A. Crawford, Snow, Winter Weather

Only Child prepares for Christmas

Only Child's vision of the Christmas tree

Only Child’s vision of the Christmas tree

Ho Ho Ho or is it a little of Bah Humbug as I go round and round on the Christmas merry-go-round. Gee, it was so much simpler when I was a kid (back in the grey ages, of course). Probably because Mom and Dad had all the responsibility and I just had to enjoy it all while providing a little help. I posted the below excerpt from my memoir last year about the Christmas tree, but I think it is worth posting again – because it brings back the awe of Christmas, which we often forget in the mad Christmas rush.

When Dad drags the Christmas tree into the house, I inhale the pine fragrance. It fills me with anticipation made longer and harder to hold inside as Dad attempts to fit the tree trunk into the stand.

I can’t watch the agony, so after Mom and I haul up the boxes of lights and ornaments from the basement, I sit in the kitchen and listen to the wall clock tick away time. I hear “Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,” but it is only the green radio. I poke my head inside the living room.

“Is it ready yet?”

“Patience,” Mom says, handing Dad a screwdriver.

“It’s coming along.” He twists the red tree stand. “Okay, Julia, let’s push it up.”

And my parents heave the tree up to its majestic six feet, spreading dark green bristles in the corner by the archway and just brushing the mantle. Finally. I crouch down and dig into the box of ornaments.

“Wait a minute,” Mom says. “The lights come first.”

And she and Dad twine the lights throughout the tree and I hold my breath one-two-three until I think I’ll pop, as Dad plugs in the lights and . . .

Nothing. One light has burned out and the only way to find the culprit is to remove each light, one at a time, and try a light that you hope might work. It is worse than waiting for Santa Claus. But when the miracle occurs, when the lights shine red, blue, white, yellow and green, throughout the tree, Christmas leaps days closer. Mom and I tackle the ornaments. I’m like a dog given the “yes,” for a walk, prancing around, reaching my paws down and up, and placing big coloured balls, small bells, and white plastic icicles on the sharp branches. Mom and I wrap tinsel – thin wavy light and big gold, which almost hides the lights, but they sparkle through. Then, I suck in my breath and look way up while Mom stands on the stepladder and places the angel in the top spot. (Excerpted from You Can Go Home – Deconstructing the Demons, copyright 2012 Sharon A. Crawford).

Today, I have a tiny (under two feet) fake tree that sits on an end table. It has LED red lights which I leave in their sockets year round when I pack it away plus a few miniature decorations. Putting up these and other Christmas decorations isn’t the big stressor.  Running all the errands, trying to get client work done, doing PR for my debut mystery short story collection  Beyond the Tripping Point, and rewriting my prequel mystery novel, sometimes make me feel like I’m on a runaway train. Of course there are all those Christmas parties and other socials (which I like) and wrapping Christmas presents and signing, addressing, etc  the few Christmas cards I still do (both of which I don’t like doing  – when my son was growing up he wrapped all the Christmas presents except for his. Not child labour. Martin just wrapped presents much better than my messy job of it). I prefer to buy the presents to fit the receiver and then opening my own presents.

Then there are all those unplanned added “happenings” to mess up your days – such as computer problems, transit delays, sometimes weather, and annoying sales people on the phone or at the door. A few minutes ago I just rudely sent one on her unmerry way – she deserved it after trying to get into my house to check my water heater…and she isn’t even from the utility company I rent my water heater from.

So, I gave the clients notice last week that I’m taking a three-week break from client work to do some rewriting of my novel, spend time with family and friends, and yes, to do some book PR. It’s either that or find my own rabbit hole or bum a lift on Santa’s sleigh back to the North Pole. Probably not the latter – I hate winter weather.

How do you deal with the Christmas rush?


Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes


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Filed under Christmas holidays, Christmas spirit, Christmas stress, Christmas tree, Clients, Memoir content, Mom and Dad, Only child, Santa Claus, Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child looks at Christmas “after shocks.”

Only Child's mystery gift

You know the saying, “The best made plans of mice and (hu)men… ” Christmas (so far) has been going like that and it’s made me do a combination of re-evaluating my attitudes and also confirming some of them.

My friend was feeling a bit under the weather Dec. 24 but she did come here Christmas Day; so I went to that Christmas Eve candlelight service on my own and while there lost or had stolen a leather bracelet I was wearing. And I have a mystery Christmas gift – one of two packages where the giver didn’t leave his or her name.

I’m glad my friend did make it here to celebrate Christmas Day and part of Boxing Day with me. She felt somewhat better and was quite chirpy – she made her mean stove-top dressing and we caught up on each others’ news. So, no regrets, upsets here. The other two – the bracelet and the present are something else.

First, the present -I know it arrived with someone who came to my annual Christmas Open House party earlier this month because it sat under my little tree since then. I’ve been playing detective but the “prime suspect” says it isn’t from her. So I will go back over my party guest list and do some more detecting. It’s important that I thank the giver.

The bracelet – in a church? When I told my visiting friend about this and added that I’ve had more luck when I leave things at the library – I always get them back – she made some comment about going there instead of a church. She might be right. Christmas Day in daylight, I retraced my steps to and from the church. I also phoned the church’s pastor yesterday; he took my phone number  and he said he’d check the pews and perhaps someone found it and it would turn up in a few days.

I have my doubts – partly because I’ve had items go missing before and the “return rate” is about 25 per cent maximum – the items sometimes show up months later and for that I am grateful. Maybe I’m going on about trivia, but I’m looking at the bigger picture and trying to see what it can mean. Sure, I’m getting older and anything remotely connected to memory can deteriorate. When I’m under a lot of stress and overwhelmed by too much to do, I don’t pay attention to every little thing. However, this wasn’t the case Christmas Eve. The church service was inspiring and relaxing.

No, the bigger picture seems to be a combination of  “life happens” and you gotta accept it. That’s the part I’m re-evaluating and trying to use. However, it also reinforces one of my beliefs based on my personal experience – about 75 per cent of the time – seeing is believing. In this case if and when the bracelet shows up, then I’ll believe it. Some of you reading this will think: shouldn’t the belief be the opposite? I’ve tried that, even envisioned the event happening. Sometimes it does but more often it doesn’t or it arrives late or skewed. That’s the attitude I’m reaffirming. Call me a jaded skeptic – being a journalist for many years plus bad life experiences will do that. I believe that many people can have good law-of-attraction experiences but I don’t seem to be one of those. I can envision something happening until the cows come home on roller skates (as my cousins on the farm used to say) but the latter is more likely to occur first.

And a few minutes ago I talked to one of my closest friends. She’s had a terrible December. She banged her head twice, fell inside her house once earlier this month. Yesterday, she had to go to hospital emergency with a broken retina (she had cataract surgery earlier this year) and her brother-in-law just died. I’m complaining about a lost bracelet? I feel somewhat ashamed and realize now I gotta get a grip on what’s important and what isn’t.

However, I still maintain my beliefs as mentioned above. My friend’s experiences are more proof of them than anything I’ve experienced so far this month.

So, what do others think? Ever have good law-of-attraction experiences? I’d like to know.

Cheers and Happy New Year


Only Child Writes

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Filed under Christmas, Gratitude, Life learning, Only child, Prayer, Siblings and friends, Trust

Only Child won’t spend Christmas alone

Oh Christmas tree - all two and a half feet of you

You don’t have to spend Christmas alone. If you can’t fly home or your relatives can’t fly to you because of the snow in Great Britain and Europe, that is no reason to skulk inside alone. Do you really want to do your version of the Grinch at Christmas? Bah humbug to that.

On a personal note, just because my son Martin and his girlfriend Alison are spending Christmas with some of her family in Costa Rica is no excuse for me to whine (wine?) away Christmas alone. I did spend Christmas on my own last year but that was my choice. One of my friends, Diane, also has the Christmas alone situation so I invited her to come here for Christmas Eve to Boxing Day. We did it a few years ago when my son was wandering through New Zealand during December. And Martin and Alison plan to phone me Christmas Day as they did last year. The three of us have the second Sunday in January booked for our belated Christmas dinner.

So I do roast chicken twice. Big deal. Diane and I share supplying the food and preparing the meal Christmas day – she makes a mean stovetop stuffing. Christmas Eve we plan to attend the candlelight service at one of the churches within walking distance (Special note here – neither church is Catholic which suits us just fine – we are both lapsed or ex-Catholics). Afterwards, if it isn’t too slippery outside, we can walk around the neighbourhood and look at the Christmas lights. Besides the dinner, Christmas Day, there are the presents under the tree (all two and a half feet of it) and Christmas movies on TV. And another friend might pop in on Boxing Day.

If Christmas alone seems to be your prospect – get off your gringy grumpy duff and do something about it. Invite a friend over for dinner or go out to dinner together. Help at a Christmas dinner for seniors. Get together with some of your neighbours, especially if they are alone this Christmas. Even attend a Christmas church service.  Don’t hide under the bedcovers – the only company you might find there are bedbugs. Yeck!

Christmas is what you make of it. Don’t stress or grump it out. Enjoy it.

Merry Christmas, happy holiday, happy New Year, etc.

And my tree has a topping – not an angel but a striped candy cane my nearly seven-year-old neighbour next door made for me using origami.



Only Child Writes

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Filed under Aloneness, Christmas, Only child, Siblings and friends

Not so Only at Christmas and After

I spent Christmas Day alone this year and I don’t resent it. I didn’t have a hissy fit; didn’t do a “poor me, all alone” dance, and (do I dare say this?) I actually enjoyed it.

My son Martin  and his girlfriend Alison were in Costa Rica visiting her sister and her family who live there – so our Christmas dinner will be in January – late – even after the Ukrainian and Macedonian Christmas celebrations. When a friend asked me why I wasn’t having anybody over and cooking a big poultry roast dinner – she thought it was because I couldn’t afford it – I said “I can’t be bothered.” Really, I was glad to spend the time alone – I didn’t starve and I got phone calls from my son and his girlfriend, my friend from across the street, and from an old school friend. I chatted for close to an hour with each. And I played my Hayley Westenra and Sarah McLachlan Christmas CDs while opening my presents – even had it serendipitously timed to open the one from Martin and Alison when they called.

For dinner I did a roast – sort of – chicken drumsticks (I’m allergic to turkey), baked yam, scalloped potatoes, stewed rhubarb (from rhubarb I’d frozen from my garden in the summer – some of my mother’s traits live on), and vanilla ice cream…and lots of eggnog and chocolates.

Then there were all the get-togethers with friends before and after Christmas including some dinners out.

It’s a far cry from 10 years ago when I spent Christmas Day alone – my son was visiting his paternal grandmother and aunt, uncle and cousins in Vancouver. I was sick with a very bad flu and feeling alone – I even called my ex and wished him a Merry Christmas. But when I phoned one of my closest friends she just didn’t get it – she kept saying I should get on a bus and come over there for dinner and her husband would pick me up at the bus stop – she lives outside of Toronto. Newsflash dear friend – I was too sick to go beyond my front door.

I guess this Christmas was my variation of the warm close Christmases I spent with my late Mom and Dad. We managed to make our individual quirks work for memorable Christmases – and they weren’t always the same – sometimes we spent Christmas Day at home, just the three of us – sometimes we went to my dad’s sister’s for Christmas with her family. In my memoir which I’m writing (still – query off to an agent this month – New Year’s promise) I describe a composite of my family’s Christmas. Here’s just a little bit.

Between Christmas and New Year’s, every other year, the living room and dining room are filled with clinking glasses, low chatter, and the near-midnight snack served on the dining room table. Mom has whirled through her cleaning frenzy, vacuuming the two or three months’ collection of dust bunnies hiding under the furniture, and denuded the tabletop of its usual sewing paraphernalia.  Our good friends, The Armstrongs – George, Margaret and their spinster daughter, Eileen – from across the street, drop over to visit and mother lets me stay up late. I half listen to the drone and whisper (one year mother had laryngitis) while keeping one eye on the TV in the corner and the other eye (and stomach) focusing on the spread in the next room – delicate sandwiches filled with egg salad or salmon, minus the crusts now banished to the pop-up garbage can in the kitchen. When Mom finally gives the “come and eat,” signal, I stuff my pre-teen body with a midnight meal, while grabbing looks at The Bells of St. Mary’s. Warm room, congenial conversation, and the midnight feast lull me into a cocoon of false security.

Excerpted from You Can Go Home. Copyright 2009 Sharon Crawford. (And no, I’m not explaining that last line above. You’ll have to read the book when it comes out.)

I think I learned something this season. You don’t need your whole family descending on you for Christmas…and Boxing Day…and other days… and New Year’s Day to have a good Christmas. And if like me, your closest family is away for Christmas and your next-closest (read all my cousins) are in other cities and countries, you don’t need to sit alone and moan. Visit with your friends and spread it throughout the holiday. And on Christmas Day…don’t mope because you are alone. Christmas is what you make it. And so are the days, weeks and months after. A friend (who is also a writing  colleague) and I are getting together one evening later this week for a short walk and then a coffee and a catch-up talk.

Happy 2010.



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