Society wants you to believe that spending Christmas alone is the saddest thing in the world, but it’s not a big deal so much as a huge inconvenience. Not everyone grew up in The Family Stone, and many more don’t require the company of others to enjoy a day off. And sometimes, particularly during a pandemic, it's just circumstance that keeps you separated from your loved ones on this one day in December. But it doesn’t have to be a bad time.
That said, my first Christmas alone was wretched. I was 18 and had left pastry school in the South of France for my job placement in Lyon a few days before Christmas, a time in my life that made me less a francophile than a francophobe. On Christmas Day there was a lunch service, so I got to eat at work. But we had the night off, which for me meant being bored out of my mind in the studio apartment that came with the job. I had no internet access nor money nor food at the time, except for a bunch of random seasonings and a can of coconut milk that I thought I could turn into soup, but there was also no can opener. I knocked on every door on my floor for help to no avail. I went to sleep hungry and woke up for work the next day, ready to hustle desserts to earn my next meal.
Now I’m just happy to have money and food covered on Christmas, but it’s still pretty boring. It’s not so much the loneliness as the fact that everything is shut down, making the regular pursuit of fun impossible. So you’ve got to be creative if you’re going to have as good a time as everyone seems like they are on Instagram. Here are some ways you can make a fun Christmas for one:
This is truly the one day capitalism doesn’t expect anything from most people. I don’t know about you, but I always sleep better when I know no one needs anything from me the next day. Suddenly my chronic insomnia evaporates and I can sleep all day — and I do.
Go to the dog park
At some point you should take a Christmas shower and leave the house to breathe some Christmas air. Thankfully, dogs never know it’s Christmas and require the same treatment that they need every other day of the year, so whether you have a dog or not, you can be sure to find some to watch at the park and be inspired by their Christmas-free existence.
The best holiday foods are special, but not necessarily traditional. Put down the rib roast and make something tedious and repetitive, because you’ve got the time. This year I’m thinking about an elaborate folded pasta called balanzoni, but I’m still in the research phase.
I’m also a big fan of splurging on single portions of very expensive food to eat as simply as possible: a tray of uni for steamed rice, 8 scallops to sear and baste in butter, caviar with potato chips and sour cream, or even a truffle, though if you have truffle money and find yourself alone on Christmas, you must be absolutely dreadful or really doing some work on yourself. Happy holidays either way.
Don’t Cook Something
It’s a cliché that non-Christmas observing Americans eat Chinese food on Christmas, but there really aren’t that many other options. Besides, have you ever been to Chinatown on Christmas? It’s packed. Truly one of the few places to see a lot of people and feel normal – until you realize that a lot of those people are tourists.
I know this doesn’t sound like fun, but think of it as a gift you’re giving yourself. Especially if you’re me and haven’t put away clean laundry in almost two years.
Hopefully the above will inspire my fellow loners to seize the holiday, or at least distract yourself sufficiently until December 26.