I don’t know what’s different about this year, but I’ve found myself capital-D Dreading the coming holiday season. I think I’m okay with my childfree status, I think I’m ready to create meaningful traditions that embrace my little family of two, I think I’ll be just fine at all the “family” sing-alongs, tree trimming parties, open houses, etc. Problem is, I don’t feel fine.
For so many years, I anticipated what holidays in my home would look like, and it’s just not that easy transitioning away from those dreams. So many of the activities I loved participating in as a child and young adult involved children, so what’s a childfree gal to do?
I turned to one of my favorite cheros (a heroine who happens to be childfree) for advice. Melanie Notkin is the founder of Savvy Auntie and the author of a book by the same title. (If you haven’t already, check out her fab Web site here.) In the “Holidays” section (page 124) she reminds me that “with the parents so often extrabusy…an auntie can actually help by making herself available to her nieces and nephews.” I know how being with my nieces and nephews takes me completely out of my head and gives me so much joy, so after perusing suggestions from Melanie and some of her readers, I started thinking about what I could do to creating some merriment and childlike wonderment for myself in the next several weeks. I could:
- Offer to take the nieces out to shop for gifts for their parents.
- Invite friends and their kids over for a cookie decorating (and eating) party.
- Over Skype, read a classic holiday story—’Twas the Night Before Christmas or The Polar Express—to the children of faraway friends.
- Bundle up my nephews and take them out to view the decorative lights in their neighborhood.
- Host a hot chocolate tasting party (peppermint, cinnamon, and boozy for the big kids).
- Invite other childfree friends over for Game Night—Charades, Celebrity, all those lively group games my family used to play when we got together.
I’m also thinking about spending extra time in the gym, reading a big juicy book, and watching all of the Harry Potter movies on DVD. I think these distraction options are healthier than fudge (which I’m still considering), and I’m also open to suggestions. I’d love to hear from you. How are you planning to face the holiday season this year?
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is mostly at peace with her childfree status.
I take my nephews Christmas shopping for their parents.It’s a huge amount of fun — we make each other laugh the whole night. I used to invite my niece over to make christmas cookies when she was younger and living close by. Last year, our vet had a Santa at the office and we took our pets to have their picture taken with him. This year, I bought tickets to see a professional choir sing christmas carols at a nearby university theater. And, every christmas, my husband sets up a huge slot car racing track in the basement and we invite our friends to bring their kids over to play with it. All of this does bring merriment into the house. I hope these suggestions help you too.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods says
Wow, Maria! These are all great ideas. Thank you for sharing!
I forgot to mention this one – when I was single living alone in my apartment, my 10 year old nephew thought it was tragic that I didn’t have a christmas tree. So we went with his little sister to buy a small tree in the snow and he carried it up to my apartment and set it for me. Then we made popcorn and tried to string it (but mostly ate the popcorn) while we watched christmas shows on tv and decorated the tree. That is one of my nicest memories with them.
This year, it’d be the first anniversary since I found out I’d not have children- and I am not visiting family (to save my insanity, especially with THREE newborns (all within the two last months!) a six months baby, and a toddler…. I’m going to visit an elderly deaf man at a nursing home- he doesn’t have family on Christmas. I plan to bring some peppermint bark, a deck of cards, and a photography book on planes of WW2 (the nurse let it slide that he had worked as a mechanic for WW2 planes and that he was very proud of that accomplishment).
Since my nephew is under six months, I elected not to go. I’ll wait and see how I feel by next year’s holidays- by then I hope I’d be ready. I love the ideas you had shared, and I do look forward to use those when the nephew is old enough!
Kathleen Guthrie Woods says
What a beautiful and generous idea. So thoughtful of you, especially during such a difficult time.
Wolfers, I love your plans. How thoughtful of you.
We had our 14 year old niece come over and help decorate our Christmas tree.
Will have my favourite niece (who is 21 now) here with her family (and 13 year old brother), so it will be busy and fun catching up with family we haven’t seen in almost 3 years.
Wolfers reminded me of this. Another thing I do at Christmas is I volunteer with a local agency to be matched to a stranger and I am their secret Santa. If i”m feeling down about my situation, it usually puts my life in perspective when I learn that this stranger is going through far worse and seems to still be happier than me.
It is my first Xmas struggling with this. But I intend to enjoy the toddlers and older kids, then go for long walks when I need to. I know there will be lots of tears on my part in the spare bedroom, but I do want to be an aunt to the others.
Rainbow Brite says
Hubby and I will be volunteering at a local animal shelter on Christmas Eve. It’s impossible for me to be sad when I’m surrounded by cats 🙂 Then my family (including our niece and nephew) will be spending a couple of nights with us starting Christmas Day. Since we’ll probably never have the “Christmas morning with kids” experience ourselves, we’re going to have a “Day after Christmas morning with the kids,” where we get to exchange gifts and [hopefully] put some smiles on their faces. Then we’ll spend that day doing fun things like baking cookies, going to the kids museum, building a fire, etc. Since we live 3 hours away from them, we don’t get to see them very often anymore…but we try to make it a memorable experience when we do.