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To think some Mumsnetters have an idealistic vision of Christmas alone?

(63 Posts)
winterswan Sat 26-Dec-15 16:57:45

Now it's over, I feel I can ask this.

I understand that if you've spent weeks/months shopping, wrapping, saving, preparing and cooking the idea of waking up in an empty house, spending the day pottering about reading and listening to radio 4 sounds nice.

The reality is a bit different. Some points are:

1. Living alone is more expensive than living as a couple. Someone living alone just maybe isn't drifting around a wooden floored penthouse in a white waffle dressing gown but in slightly less desirable conditions.

2. the Mumsnet line is that it doesn't have to be a turkey dinner, just special food you enjoy. That kind of happens every day when you live alone - you always make and choose food you like.

3. As above to films.

4. As above to baths.

5. As above to books.

I will probably get flamed but I've had wine

So the reality of a Christmas alone is that it can be lonely, isolating and sad.

honeysucklejasmine Sat 26-Dec-15 17:02:01

YANBU! Having someone to spend Christmas with is a very good thing.

EponasWildDaughter Sat 26-Dec-15 17:02:20


I haven't been alone at xmas, but i don't do being alone very well at the best of times and i know i would struggle at xmas.

I too often think, when posters say 'you can eat what you like/do what you like for the day' ... well; if you live alone you eat what you like and do what you like anytime confused It's meant kindly i suppose.

ButImNotTheOnlyOne Sat 26-Dec-15 17:04:03

I think a lot of us crave alone time but when it happens we long fo the chaos if family life.
Yanbu. Hope you have a nice new year planned. Now that you can do better without dc.

SchnooSchnoo Sat 26-Dec-15 17:07:18

YANBU, but I think your answering your own point really. If you're alone most of the time, being alone isn't a 'treat'. If you live in a noisy chaotic environment with lots of people demanding your attention, then it is!

GoApeShit Sat 26-Dec-15 17:07:21

YANBU. I've often thought this when reading 'alone at Christmas' musings on here. I wasn't alone but I would hate to be and feel for those who are (unless, of course, that's how they prefer it and are happy).

OddSocksHighHeels Sat 26-Dec-15 17:08:38

Yeah it's not easy. I had an alright day but it didn't feel like Christmas and I would have much preferred company. I'm glad it's over wine

winterswan Sat 26-Dec-15 17:11:17

Oh, I absolutely agree Schnoo but the two types of posts attract different reactions.

'AIBU to want to be on my own for a while' elicits a flurry of 'YANBUs' while 'AIBU to be sad about spending Christmas music alone' is given a stern talking to.

honeyroar Sat 26-Dec-15 17:12:10

YANBU. But I think that people that suggested such things were trying to find a positive rather than being patronising. I was one of them on one thread. I've just spent a wonderful Xmas with my family, it was delightful, I loved it, however I've spent 10/the last 18 working and alone, so I was suggesting things that have made it better for me...

knobblyknee Sat 26-Dec-15 17:12:46

YANBU, but its really just a state of mind. You can choose to be un-lonely. I will never be in another relationship as I am disabled. I get the odd pang of 'wouldnt it be nice if'. I agree, yes it would and let it go.

We all have the pain of our last whatever. Its life.

noeffingidea Sat 26-Dec-15 17:15:04

I would like to try it, tbh. I've spent 55 christmasses with other people, I'd like to spend one on my own.
I don't think I have an idealistic view of it, I'd really like to just ignore the whole thing. I feel like I'm just going through the motions for the benefit of other people.

IonaNE Sat 26-Dec-15 17:15:20

YABU. I absolutely love Christmas alone (don't get to do it every year even as an adult but even so) and this year I have refused two invitations. I also love the fact that I don't get into debt; don't have to cook and wash-up after a horde of people; I don't have to spend my time listening to conversations I'm not interested in and watching films I am likewise not interested in. I don't much understand the reference to food: no, it does not have to be a turkey dinner, but when I was not a vegetarian, I used to eat turkey all year round, whenever I fancied it; and if you can eat whatever you want all year round - well, life is just better for that, isn't it? smile

ImperialBlether Sat 26-Dec-15 17:15:53

What gets me is when people start to recommend working in a soup kitchen on Christmas Day (usually suggested in December when they're full of volunteers anyway.) Why does nobody suggest that couples work in a soup kitchen on Christmas Day?

HackerFucker22 Sat 26-Dec-15 17:16:35

Wanting some time out of a busy family life is not the same as being alone all the time. So yes most people who don't live alone may have an idyllic vision of what they'd do with alone time.

Lweji Sat 26-Dec-15 17:16:51

It depends on the alternative.

I'd rather spend Christmas alone than with exH. But I prefer to be with family or good friends than alone, definitely.

scarlets Sat 26-Dec-15 17:18:45

I know what you mean. I hope you're ok.

I guess that if you work in retail (for example) then the run-up to 25th would be very hectic, with little time to read, to cook properly, or to watch tv - in that case, I imagine that Christmas Day would feel restful and pleasant.

Did you think about going on a short hol or volunteering, or were those options not feasible?

winterswan Sat 26-Dec-15 17:19:14

Isn't that the point Iona, that you had alternatives and chose to spend it alone?

winterswan Sat 26-Dec-15 17:19:55

Holidays alone aren't for me, and besides they are very expensive at this time of the year (see point 1.)

Spero Sat 26-Dec-15 17:24:17

I think it probably has a lot to do with the fact that some people cannot engage with issues that are difficult and sad. There is a kind of panic that I have noticed - quick! say something positive! otherwise she might cry and I can't deal with it!

Being alone all year has nothing whatsoever to do with someone who craves a day of 'me time'. Being alone is about facing the pain of today's loneliness which is compounded by the fear of the future loneliness to come.

Of course, a lot of how you feel is influenced by your perspective and how you chose to let yourself feel. But I do think it would be a lot better if people could engage with other people's sadness rather than trying to explain it away. We all get sad and down about different things but not being part of the Christmas Happy Family Meme is particularly difficult when you are constantly surrounded by images/adverts/Facebook photos etc, that tell you this is the ideal and if you haven't got it, you've failed.

winterswan Sat 26-Dec-15 17:25:35

Excellent post, Spero

EponasWildDaughter Sat 26-Dec-15 17:27:33

I'm a SAHM to a 1 yr old DD and spend days alone at home with her during the week. Weekends - DH is home, and older DDs and their partners are round, house is busy, the total opposite of most weekdays.

When the house is full i hanker after a bit of peace, and will creep upstairs for 10 mins solitude. When i'm alone (with little DD) i pine for adult conversation and count the days till the weekend.

Not saying either of these is really like living alone or being riotously busy, but i can see how it's easy to aquire rose tinted specs.

The soup kitchen, holiday in the sun, spending the day in the bed/bath solutions are often trotted out. I do wonder how many people who are alone on xmas day actually do any of these things?

Spero Sat 26-Dec-15 17:29:04

Thanks winterswan. I have been thinking about this a lot recently. there are some friends I don't think I can remain friends with any longer because when I want to have a conversation about things that make me said, they constantly want to serve the argument back to me in some sugar coated guff that is about making THEM feel better not me.

Fair dos, no one wants to listen to someone moan on for hours and hours. But I think if you cannot give a friend the honest gift of your sympathy and attention, because it makes you uncomfortable to face their unhappiness, you are not much of a friend.

lostInTheWash Sat 26-Dec-15 17:30:22

I've lived a lone and didn't really like it so get what you are saying there.


the Mumsnet line is that it doesn't have to be a turkey dinner, just special food you enjoy. That kind of happens every day when you live alone - you always make and choose food you like.

I bought expensive stuff I liked rather than cheaper everyday meal stuff - or sometimes special book or film when I was by myself on special days or did a day of shopping for day out - admittedly not spent a Christmas alone but anniversaries, Easter and birthdays. Yes I prefer to do other things and some options like going to cinema by myself I felt uncomfortable trying but I I could do that at least.

Spero Sat 26-Dec-15 17:34:39

Of course, there are lots of things you could and should be doing to make things better for yourself.

What I think the op is objecting to (and I agree) is when these options are constantly presented as things which you are o so lucky to have the chance to enjoy! and what do you have to complain about anyway...

Its about not allowing anyone the right to be sad about things they are legitimately sad about.

I don't like it. Because I strongly suspect it is about the other person not wanting to have to deal with someone else's unhappiness.

CastaDiva Sat 26-Dec-15 17:36:22

Of course you're entitled to feel any way you like about spending Christmas alone, OP.

I do think, though, that the people who are emphasising the positives of a Christmas alone are trying to combat the pervasive social stigma of aloneness - some people facing Christmas alone can't see beyond some media image of a tragic singleton eating a mini-pudding with a sagging paper hat in his y-fronts (etc etc cliché, cliché), and it makes them feel as if they are supposed to feel awful about it, whether they do or not. Like being single - there's still a lingering social stigma (though far less than there used to be, I think?), and you're 'supposed' to want to be in a couple, whether you do or not.

Obviously, you feel how you feel, OP, and no one can or should tell you you should be zipping about on holiday or volunteering if you genuinely don't want to. For what it's worth, some of my best Christmases were spent alone - on one, I was walking the Pennine Way - and on another, I was on a week-long silent retreat in a Buddhist centre on the west coast of Ireland.

And I think it's fair to say that people who are unwillingly solo at Christmas also idealise Christmases that involve togetherness. But any read of Mn Christmas threads will relieve any illusions. grin

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