Holiday GiftsThe holiday season is here, but this year might be different; maybe you’re alone for the first time in a long time. Maybe your children or relatives are around, but not really there for you, or perhaps this is your first season without a partner because you are newly divorced or widowed. It can be difficult, but also the opportunity for a new beginning.

You probably don’t know what to expect. You know life will be different, but instead of being the victim of a death, divorce or other potentially lonely circumstances, take charge of the change. Write your own holiday.

Look outside the box: who else is in the same situation facing their first holiday season without a partner? Who has relatives who won’t be in town or an adult child not available? This is no time to focus on the negative; connecting with others in new ways can bring joy to them and to you. There a number of ways you can rethink your holiday season. Think about seeking opportunities in your community to help brighten the lives of those less fortunate. And as you’re giving presents to others, be sure to add one more person to the list: you!

  • Treat yourself; gift yourself. This is especially hard to do if you’re a woman. It’s so easy to get trapped with your guilt and/or grief then overspend on your children and grandchildren. You’re so used to meeting other people’s needs that you forget your own. It’s OK to buy yourself a present!
  • Give yourself the gift of time. Loss can never be recovered, but time can help ease the pain.
  • Give yourself the gift of patience. Life is different but not necessarily unbearable. Like the gift of time, you won’t immediately become the “new you.” Understand and accept that; take mini steps into your new life.
  • Give yourself the gift of spontaneity. You’ll miss wonderful opportunities to enrich your life if you aren’t willing to take advantage of unexpected situations.
  • Give yourself the gift of flexibility. Remember YOU are in charge of writing your own holiday, and this means change.
  • Finally, if you’re a person of faith, renew in yourself that gift of faith.

The holidays may be a lonely or depressing time. To “keep your chin up” is not merely to endure, but to “step up and out.” It can be a real opportunity to start the rest of your life and make your remaining days and years ones of growth and joy.