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Let’s Talk About Living Alone During The Holidays This Year – Jess Feels You


Here we are, month 10 of the year none of us saw coming and right now it’s supposed to be the most joyful time of the year. If only.

It’s funny, I really thought that decorating for the holidays in my new apartment would really kick things up a notch in the happiness department. So far only mildly. I want to state that I know I am beyond lucky in almost every way right now. Yet despite my nearly daily effort in knowing and reminding myself of this, I still can’t shake this sense of sadness and loneliness. I guess it would be pretty miraculous/suspicious if I felt consistently elated during a horrendous pandemic that’s keeping us 6ft apart from our loved ones at nearly all times. But the inner war that’s in my head of allowing myself to be sad vs. only allowing myself to be grateful is just well, that’s a therapy session for another day. 

I wasn’t planning to write a semi-depressing post about living alone during the holidays but in our Monday editorial meeting the topic came up and Emily thought I should write about the ways I’m trying to lift my mood right now. To be honest, I’m still working on it. Everything I normally do during the holidays like buying a tree, setting out all of my little decorations, watching bad holiday movies, etc. has felt more robotic than joyful. 

remember friends with faces??

It’s real shit that there is so much shame around admitting that you are lonely (even in a pandemic but especially during the holidays). So, for those of you who are living alone or aren’t but still feel it, I am here to say that you are not alone in your loneliness. Living by yourself without the freedom to hug your friends is lonely. Watching the country act like there still isn’t a pandemic happening while you follow the rules is LONELY. Decorating for a season that is normally filled with people and love in close proximity is f*ing lonely. And maybe that’s ok for this year. I mean I can’t help but to have hope for the future and knowing that while we will be forever changed, we will get to a place where gatherings, dates, and going to restaurants with friends won’t be drenched in fear and anxiety. 

Ok back to the holidays at hand. As someone who celebrates Christmas, that’s what I’ll be referencing but hopefully, some of what I’m talking about will still resonate with those who don’t too:) 

The first dumb thing I did was buy a huge 8ft tree. It was the quarantine Christmas equivalent to a midlife crisis when a dude buys a “sexy” sports car to feel young. I’m sure women do this too. My initial thought was, “Hey, I have a beautiful rounded window so I’m going to use it!” But subconsciously the idea was “the bigger the tree, the more Christmas joy I’ll feel and I’ll forget we’re still in quarantine.” Well, I successfully got the tree up the stairs but in the process of trying to put the tree in the stand, the netting got caught in my chandelier and my scissors were close… but on the floor. It was the balancing act of my life and while I was able to cut the tree loose and kept the chandelier unharmed, I could not FOR THE LIFE OF ME get the tree 100% straight. As I write this, I’m looking at my 78 degree angled tree and it’s basically shouting at me that I’m alone. It’s both kind of funny and a bummer. I might have a masked friend come and help but also I don’t think I really care enough. It’s 2020. Whatever. 78 degrees is good enough, right? 

HOT TIP: Get a tree you can easily handle by yourself. I guess that’s common sense. However, annoyingly we learn yet again that big things do not fill big emotional holes (keep your mind out of the gutter, it’s the holidays!). 

because the only thing more depressing than this color palette is hanging only one stocking haha

Next was my color palette. Here is a pic of my unintended “goth Christmas” fireplace. In my old apartment, with its light woods and white walls, this same decor was happy with a hint of moody. Here though, it’s moody, dark, and kinda depressing against my brown fireplace (also this was just the first decorating swing so don’t judge). After I set it all up, I took a step back and asked myself why I didn’t feel happier. I think partly it was the all the dark colors and lack of contrast? Now I don’t think I want to spend a ton of money changing the color palette but if you are decorating alone definitely consider your colors and how the make you feel this year. I normally love a moody design but Christmas 2020 is apparently not the year for it.

HOT TIP: Choose a holiday color palette that brings you joy! If it’s red and green, great. If it’s orange, pink, and purple that’s great too. One of my best friends and her roommate love Harry Styles and their decor theme this year is “A Very Harry Christmas.” We are all just trying to make it through amirite??? But also I can’t wait to see those pics:)

The one thing I really want to be proactive about this month is group zooms. Again not ideal because in-person hangs are always better but the sense of community that existed at the beginning of quarantine was really helpful for me mentally. But then when we were allowed to go outside (thank god), understandably those dissipated and the one-on-one face times were the norm. And while I love those dearly, the feeling of gatherings is what I think I miss most. But I can’t expect my friends and family to read my mind so I need to plan them… or at least one. Maybe it’s some kind of simultaneous cookie baking (then eating) zoom. Or maybe it could be an “everyone makes an ornament with what they have in their house” contest. Maybe it’s a “cheap wine” wine tasting event where everyone gets the same three bottles under $10. I don’t know but I think whatever it is, I really think it will help. I just need to actually do it and not just be an idea person. Intentions are nothing without action, right? I think that actually is the motto of 2020.

So there you go, I hope that even acknowledging how I’ve been feeling helps those who are lonely too, feel less alone. I do think it’s an important reminder that our family and friends cannot read our minds and that we have to reach out (but also maybe reach out to your friends who live alone?). It’s SO hard when everyone is going through their own version of hell and you don’t want to be a burden. BUT the more we safely connect, the better we all are. 

Have the happiest holiday you can but also don’t put pressure on yourself. You are doing great. Also, wear a mask.

Love you, mean it and you are most definitely not alone<3

Opening Image Credits: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Jess’ Bold Berry-Infused, Cozy Modern Holiday Apartment

Fin Mark


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I feel you, ma’am. Living alone (and single) during the pandemic can be rough. And boring! I hope you know that whatever you’re feeling is okay, and that experiencing seemingly contradictory emotions at the same time is actually healthy. Especially now, when awareness of privilege and gratitude about wellness co-mingle with grief and the loneliness of isolation. XO


Such an important message I wish was said more. It’s normal and healthy to feel two different things at the same time. You can feel sad and also feel grateful, it took me so long to learn thing and am still working on it, I love this reminder.




Even though you have a lot to be grateful for it is OK to grieve your losses. It is still a loss for you even if others have lost more. It is the pandemic version of survivors guilt. I think many of us are grieving the loss of connections and good times we often have this time of year.


This is lovely, Jess, and a real service to many like you who do live alone. We focus in this pandemic on how hard things are for the elderly, or for children who can’t go to school, but in many ways this is hardest on single people in their 20s and 30s. The dating years, only no dating. The, “I guess I’ll go see my parents,” years, only your parents verge on the high-risk category and you can’t see them. And your jobs might be insecure, your self-expectations high, and no way to make the progress you wanted to. All of which is to say, here’s a big virtual hug. ((((Jess)))).


Or hardest on single people in their 70s whose social contacts with grandkids and peers alike are too fraught with risk…


Or single people of ANY age who live alone and have had to stay away from their families or friends with families…..


I think it can be really hard on anyone. I live alone and I feel much luckier than some people I know who now feel trapped in relationships they know aren’t working out, but can’t get out easily under the current circumstances, or the parents with young children who never thought they’d need to simultaneously run homeschool and work full time. My biggest struggle is financial – I keep hearing about all these people saving money not driving or going out to eat and I’m like….I wasn’t doing any of that before! I wish I could afford to order takeout and buy puzzles and other activities and gifts for my friends, but c’est la vie. The suffering olympics never help anyone, but I know that personally I’d rather be alone than stuck in a house with someone who’s driving me crazy! But that’s a big part of why I was living alone in the first place 🙂


Ugh…I feel you…my city is in complete lockdown and I got really bummed a couple days ago when I discovered there were already no Christmas trees left in my budget in the city…like seriously, they were sold out by December 1st. (And I don’t have space to store an artificial). It wasn’t until I got so majorly bummed about it that I realized that I was really just bummed about the lonely and wanting to get excited about something.


Rachel- Do you have a PayPal where I could send you money to help you get a tree?


Oh, Brooke…that’s so incredibly generous of you—I ’m literally tearing up that a complete stranger would offer me this means more than the tree itself—people sticking up for each other in these times! I’m okay though— I found a small potted one today for 30$! 😀 not really sure what I’m going to do with it once Christmas is over but maybe I can talk my parents into planting a new tree in their yard haha!


Are you able to find any garlands or wreaths? It’s a huge pain getting a tree up the stairs into my apartment so I generally go with smaller spots of greenery! You can still add lights or even small ornaments, and if you remove any wires prior to disposal you can compost them. Trader Joe’s usually has really affordable ones, but I’m not sure what the stock is like this year. Another option might be to look for a cheap artificial tree on Craigslist or at Goodwill and then donate it after the holidays – I bet you could even find a school or hospital or something that keep a stash of artificial decor and would be willing to take it!


Yep. I’m pretty solitary by nature and thought I was well suited to staying home alone but gee, not for this long! Oh so grateful I can live alone but that doesn’t make me feel less lonely. The furnace guy was here yesterday for annual servicing. Considered dragging him into the living room to admire my Christmas trees but didn’t. Yes, I over-did by adding a white and an aqua tree to my usual red one. Looks kinda like the mall over here. After the furnace guy left, I realized that was probably my one and only chance to show it off!
Ah, well. I’m mixing up some batch cocktails to deliver to my zoom happy hour group for next week -that should be fun.


We had to get a new fridge, and after waiting 6 weeks bc of all the supply chain craziness (like, we bought something from HD not a special fancy European anything) it finally arrived. My husband had to gently encourage me to leave the installers alone bc I was so close and so chatty it was weird. I’m not even alone, and the relief of having a new face around made me giddy. I was acting like a slight tipsy person who thinks everyone is their new best friend.


@ DeniseGK and @Sheila hahahaha oh man I know that feeling SO WELL. PLEASE RANDOM STRANGER ENGAGE IN A HUMAN WAY WITH ME NOOOOW!


You should see if you can reorient your webcam setup so that the tree is in the background and everyone can admire it! I have a few coworkers who have visible trees and I love it, especially when we’re on a call at 5 pm and it’s already been dark out for an hour and a half. One person’s cat is constantly trying to bat ornaments off her tree, so we always keep an eye out on Zoom and let her know if mischief is going down behind her 😂


Thanks for opening up. It’s absolutely been a rough year in every way – personally, I think buying a massive Christmas tree is a great coping mechanism. Cheers to identifying how you are feeling, living with it, and then determining how to improve your mental health.

Where is that fantastic sculptural candle holder to the left of your fireplace from, may I ask?


“…big things do not fill big emotional holes (keep your mind out of the gutter, it’s the holidays!)”: I choked on my wine at that one 🙂 Thanks for the laugh! But also, thanks for the reminder that no one can read my mine; I need to ask for what I need to pull myself out of the holiday lonelys.


I’m lonely too even though I have kids who are with me half time, and a partner. I don’t think loneliness is so much a function of living alone or even BEING alone, rather it’s feeling the loss of meaningful connection. I’m sorry, my family thanksgiving zoom meeting didn’t feel meaningful or contribute to me feeling connected. It just felt like a forced, family togetherness shit-show. Am I allowed to say that? I hope so. Am I allowed to say I’m lonely even when I have people I love IN my house? I hope so. Just like you are allowed to feel lonely and out of sorts and FINE with a crooked tree. We are all out of sorts and your writing is refreshing because it is honest. And relatable. This season of life is collectively just plain hard on us all right now. Maybe because we don’t know when the light at the end of the tunnel will actually come.


I hate family Zooms with a passion. I avoid them whenever possible. I love my family but forty minutes of people accidentally interrupting each other is not fun, and I already spend half my workweek explaining to people how to unmute themselves.

And yes, you can definitely be lonely around other people. It’s obviously not the same level as someone who is completely isolated, but your kids and your partner alone could never fulfill all of your social needs, nor should they have to! We are all having a weird time right now.


Love this post and very much relate. Hang in there, Jess!! We’re gonna get through.


Really enjoyed your blog about loneliness during these times and how Christmas just isn’t sitting right this year. I can relate and I know many other people can too. I just got my tree tonight. I put it in the stand and just stared blankly at this massive thing that usually brings a lot of joy. I’m going to look at it with a fresh eye tomorrow and make a plan to use many warm colors and maybe a bright color, rusty orange or something.


Thanks for the post, Jess. It’s reassuring. I especially liked your Zoom ideas (intentions).

Hope to see how you change your fireplace vignette to make it more cheerful. Inexpensive ideas: candy canes in the stockings, maybe? Add a wreath or a big bow to the artwork?


Loved the post!! I think a lot of us are in a trajectory of ” I’m doing fine, doing fine, I can handle quarantine”, then suddenly, “no, I am laughably, off the rails, lonely. What do I do?”
I agree, why should it be embarrassing to admit, when somebody asks you “how’s it going?”to say “you know, I’m actually kinda lonely today”. Big hug!!!


I’ve actually called or teted people and asked them to please come visit (because we’re allowed virtually normal life here) , even though my house is not the most positive place to visit for 6 months now…because I’m feeling so isolated.
It was huge to ask, but it helps so much when they drop by, even for 1/2 hour.
Maybe you could try pre-planned phone conversations? N O T the same, but any connection is better than none AND it’s okay to actually say when you feel lonely! x


This resonates. It’s strange decorating and trying to spread love and cheer while also avoiding humans to not spread the virus. Im like “okay going to keep calm and hang stockings” even though no one will be coming here and just do the best I can (donating was actually really encouraging for me too). We aren’t getting a tree to we avoid contact with the outside world. Lol but seriously. My sisters and their husbands and kids won’t be coming this year to be safe, but I’m decorating their old rooms and my bed to remind me of the hope and encouragement of Christmas. I feel like a lunatic, coping or compensating, decorating empty rooms, but I’m following some internal desire to decorate with things that make me happy because decorations remind me of Christmas and Christmas reminds me of true hope and joy to come so trying to lean on that – comfort and joy. So I will string my homemade pompom garland by myself in my room lol and pray that essential workers and families will be safe. In it together <3


I love this! x


We are making a big push to donate as part of our holiday too! The one thing that has really made me feel good is kind of a small thing: we took a long hard look at the toys in our house and cleaned them out. Then I made sure they were in real good shape, cleaned them, all pieces kept together in a bag or tied. We also got rid of very nice adult clothes that are good for interviews and first days at new jobs. We have a local charity that is like Goodwill. They have a special day (I think this weekend) for people in the community to come and Christmas shop. Not only can people buy gifts, but there is also donated wrapping paper, gift bags & boxes, bows, and tags so everything can be brought home safe from prying eyes. Many people in our community have been affected by job or income loss and restrictions are making it harder for them to get new jobs (not complaining, but it is reality). We have so far been spared financial problems and are grateful for that. We don’t have much extra money in the bank, but over… Read more »


My book club chose three people from our local food kitchen to sponsor for Christmas. A gay teenager and his sister (AND THEIR NINE – YES 9 – DOGS) and a transgender person. They had been passed over by a lot of people wanting to sponsor. We got everything on their lists (I sponsored the nine dogs ha ha ha) and more in the form of gift cards. The food kitchen was overwhelmed by us, and thanked us over and over. That really really helped me personally.


Hi Jess, Mostly came here to say well done for not being afraid to talk about your mental health. This has been a traumatic year for pretty much the whole world, I think we can feel like we are being melodramatic saying that, since most of us have not been sick, not lost our job or lost a loved one. There have been enough memes along the lines of “your grandparents fought a war, you’re just sitting on a couch” to make us feel like we should just suck it up, but the truth is Covid-19 has been A. BIG. DEAL. 9 months of really not knowing where this is going to go, how this going to end. Borders closing. Schools closing. Daily death tolls posted everywhere, people telling us to “stay the [email protected] home”. Basically doors closing everywhere. It’s a low level daily stress that wears away at us. So yep, it can be hard to whack on a smile (and who even sees it behind our mask anyway) and you know what, it’s ok to be sad, and it’s definitely ok to tell people you are sad. I will say, you don’t need to isolate yourself to the… Read more »


Also, I know this is a design blog, and I’m not anti the “decorating your house to try and cheer yourself up”, but yes in the face of life as we know it totally changing, buying a Christmas tree can feel a bit trite. If you take some of your decorating/celebrating/holiday wardrobe budget, and do something else with it, for example contribute to a food bank, or support a local business that you know is struggling, then you will feel a little of that sense of community.

I don’t mean that in a preachy way, but it’s just something I have found got me through this year. There is a lot going on that we can’t control, but it is nice to feel like we can make some sort of difference in somebody’s life, especially during Christmas.


Great suggestions Eve.
The bubble thing works!
Had a friend visit from Victoria and she did 2 weeks quarantine to get into Western Australia to do it….made me feel so loved!
Lucky us in NZ and Aussie, hey?!


Rusty, I had a lovely three months July-September hiding out in NZ like it was 2019, but I normally live in the middle east and eventually we had to return (jobs, apartment etc). We haven’t had a second wave, borders are tight like NZ and Aus, so it’s quietly simmering down here but it’s still a wear a mask, change your clothes when you get home, spray detail on your groceries sort of deal. Have had 4 Covid tests and I swear my nose will never be the same 😬Definitely considering packing up and moving back home as it was really nice to have that little dose of normality for a while. Stress free flat white without wiping down my cup 😂 Also hoping for a trans-Tasman bubble as my brother lives in Melbourne and got engaged in February. International weddings not so easy these days!


This year sucks. There were a couple of things I’m greatful for, but there were also loss, loneliness, and lack of choice. Next year shapes up to be more joyous. I look forward to that.


Thanks for sharing this. I think it’s important to recognise that these are hard times for EVERYONE. You can be fully employed and live in a great place and in good health and this is still HARD. I’ve heard so many people in essence questioning their “right” to feel scared, and lonely, and tired, and disillusioned, because they haven’t lost loved ones, or they haven’t lost their jobs or homes. Yes, some people have suffered enormously, 1.5 million people have died, many, many more have lost access to healthcare, to livelihoods, to social networks they rely on for their health and wellbeing. Not being in the worst-off category doesn’t make your suffering not real. Times are tough and it’s so, so important that we support each other mentally, socially, etc. That support should absolutely be conscious of those who have been hit hardest, and we should individually and collectively be doing everything we can to help the most vulnerable, but it’s nearly universal to be struggling right now. It’s ok to say you’re not ok, and to ask for help. Times are tough guys. Reach out to your loved ones. Check in on vulnerable people. Contribute to social cohesion and… Read more »


And, you know what? You guys collectively have set the world up to be a better place in 2021 by voting for a new President!
The world thanks you!


Yes! You can totally be empathetic while still experiencing trauma/grief. Just because things suck more for someone else doesn’t mean things don’t suck for you too, or that you don’t deserve help and support (although try not to take support away from people who need it most!) Empathy and compassion go a long way, especially in a time when so many Americans seem to lack it.


I definitely feel more lonely, bored, unmotivated, etc. than usual. What I have found helpful is to focus on what you can do (nothing groundbreaking, but maybe someone needs to hear or read this anyway), and for me, in my specific situation, this mostly means focusing what I can do face-to-face while staying safe. At least according to the rules we have in place, we can do a few things outside which are considered safe/minimal risk, so my holiday plans include: going for a walk with one or two people where everyone brings their own hot cocoa, dropping off Christmas cookies (which will probably include a 5 minute chat from a distance), hanging out on family’s driveway for half an hour sitting in our own camping chairs and drinking our own bubbles, etc. Thinking of mini-celebrations I can spread throughout Dec/Jan gives me something to get festive about once or twice a week… I have found myself a lot happier with less (or no) video chats but occasionally getting to hang out with an actual real-life person. But of course, what you can or cannot do is very specific to everyone’s own situation right now, but hearing this has been… Read more »


The loneliness is real for me, even though I have kids. Virtual group get-togethers make me feel more lonely for some reason (virtual school seems to have a similar loneliness effect on my kids). In-person one-on-one outdoors with masks 6 feet away feels amazing but that’s very infrequent for us. Many of the people I know are quarantining in their home state instead of here, or are high-risk, and the weather is now cold as well. Most of my pre-Covid get-togethers involved young kids, which seems almost impossible now (one of mine is too young for a mask, and another is too defiant). Phone calls with friends weirdly feel better to me than virtual group chats but it’s hard when no one has anything positive to talk about. I know a lot of seniors who have died of something other than Covid – people have lost moms or grandparents – and it feels like there’s nothing I can do. When my own grandmother passed, normally we’d have done a lot of visiting, but it was just condolence texts and Facebook messages. And then the next week, I did the same for my BFF who lost her grandmother. And the week… Read more »


I had a naughty thought when I read your comment …
Wot if … Netflix was, somehow, “broken” for, say, 3 days?!?
You know, intolerable tanties for one day, then Christmas music and the rest for the next 2 days!!!
Hahaha *naughty elf laughter*

I’m assuming you got a real tree, and so as much as I hesitate to say “here’s a somewhat expensive solution to your Leaning Tower of Tree,” here it is: I’ve put my tree up solo a few times now, and needed to adjust an off-kilter one this year alone, no problem. This thing is a tank, you’ll have it for the rest of your life, it makes putting up a tree INCREDIBLY easy. You can push down the foot pedal with your hand should you happen to find yourself at a weird angle when adjusting. Every year, I’m glad I bought this thing.


I second the Krinner stand. It’s amazing.


I third the Krinner! One of the best purchases I’ve ever made. Super easy to put up tree. It’s also very beautiful. No need to for tree skirt or basket or whatever. You will never have to have a crooked tree again!

Also a great gift for newlyweds.


Your “out of the gutter” comment cracked me up! Thank you. “…our family and friends cannot read our minds and that we have to reach out.” Now THIS, I have learned thrpugh the course of this year! I’m a helper/fixer/doer. Rarely have I ever asked for help. This year I was forced to learn how. How to ask and then, how to follow through with actually receiving. Covid has been an awakening in Western Australia, but not so bad. In fact our lives have been virtually ‘normal’ for months. We even hug people we know. Face masks aren’t really a thing in our state. Our border to the rest of this big ol’ island have been closed, hard! and the only Covid cases in mamy many months, have been in quarantine with returned travellers… zero comunity cases. This will likely change in the next couple of months because our state border is now open to the rest of the country which has had cases, but if things explode, it’ll be slammed shut with a lockdown immediately. What a contrast to the US with A PERSON DYING FROM COVID…EVERY 30 SECONDS!! OMG! 😳 My lonliness isn’t because I’m alone. In fact… Read more »


Thank you for making those of us who are not alone, more aware of what others are feeling and what they may need. Reaching out to all of my single dwelling friends today.


Thank you. I needed this today.


This was a great post – thank you!


Thank you for opening up, Jess. I hope you find some safe ways to gather this holiday. Chocolate tasting could be another idea or maybe everyone gets the same craft kit and you all fumble through it together via zoom. I’m not a big fan of zoom, but I’ve been missing some regular group gatherings I used to have. Trying to find fun, safe alternatives is challenging.

As for the fireplace vignette, I think you have great stuff but agree you need more contrast. Maybe adding some led fairy lights would give it the glow it needs to avoid making huge purchases.

Loved reading this Jess and your perspective, I hadn’t really thought of this and while I envy so many people who live alone, this never crossed my mind. I am going to make a conscious effort to reach out to my single peeps. Also, I’m open to Zoom anytime! ((hugs)) – Lea

veronica crawford

Jess i love this post so much!! thank you for sharing your experience through all of this. so beautiful. xoxoxox


Oh dear Jess! I laughed so much loud at your “unintended goth christmas fireplace..”! It was sooooooooo cute!! I am totally with you (although not lonely) and you have to know that we are REALLY together in this… in the whole world.. more than anytime earlier. This makes me feel a liiiittle bit easier… but of course, I am also very sad about this year… (not only pandemic but shocking illness in my family… :() But still. We are together. And this togertherness should give us hope and warmer feelings. 🙂 Hugs from the far far Europe!

Stephanie Zercher

The pandemic certainly has cast a long and lingering shadow on life, and the holidays aren’t exempt, especially if you’re trying to follow the rules and stay safe (and, as you point out, particularly if others aren’t). But I’ve had pre-pandemic Christmas seasons where I felt disconnected and lonely even amongst friends and family and ample celebration. And this is from someone who loves to sing in her church choir and basically lives for the entire Christmas extravaganza, both sacred and secular. I’ve always found that rather than doubling down, pulling back actually helps in those circumstances. Some quiet time and contemplation of what the season really means, plus some low-key celebration (food! drink! Christmas movies!) helps me reset. It could be because I’m an introvert and the holiday can get so frenetic and overstimulating to those of us who need quiet. Anyway, I’m a little sad about Christmas, too, this year, so I’m trying to make the most of the peace and think happy thoughts about a better year to come.


Thank you SO much for this. You spoke directly to my heart! (I was just sitting alone in my apartment feeling super lonely when I stumbled upon this post via CupofJo.) Thank you.


Hi Jess! Thanks for posting this-I know so many people (and many of my close friends who live alone) who are feeling the same as you. Thankfully I have my husband with me in my apt here in LA and that def helps us from slipping into a depressive abyss (well most of the time it helps). I have been an “essential worker” 4 days a week at Trader Joes while I get my MFT therapist hours at an agency also (for free & now via telehealth), and I am am in the high risk category health wise so its been very stressful for me and us since March. I am looking at staying home due to health concerns so I will be in the stay at home boat very soon joining you all. Despite the stress when working, I love seeing my co-workers every day I work so I haven’t felt as lonely as I know I soon will. I think I even put off staying home because I am worried I will get depressed as I am a pretty social person. Thanks for your tips-I am going to try and decorate in soothing and/or happy colors, send out… Read more »


This was so helpful to read even as someone not alone, but missing my friends and non-in-house family. I completely relate to the “pandemic purchases” which you describe like a midlife crisis. My family and friends are going to receive far more generous gifts than the usual from me but what can I say? I needed to send love. I’ve also given LOTS of money to food banks because it is a hard hard time and I feel helpless to help.


Please update this post with a photo of the 78 degree tree. 😂😂😂


That’s exactly what I was thinking! I want to see that tree…I need a laugh! Jess, thank you so much for sharing. I completely get feeling lonely while trying to do the right thing. So many of my friends are still opting to get together with family and friends. We have made the difficult decision to stay here for Christmas and not see any family for everyone’s safety. We only do 6 feet outside and masked events with friends but even with heat lamps it’s just too cold to continue. I find myself jealous of those who are “breaking the rules” even though I know it isn’t wise. Normally, I can’t wait to put up those beautiful decorations after Thanksgiving but this year instead of joy, it just felt like a whole lot of depressing work. I physically felt sick to my stomach thinking about the effort. In the end, I did put up the tree, only to find that 2/3 of the lights don’t work. I like to think it has the 2020 flair. We thought about buying a few strands of lights but looking at that sad 2/3rds that aren’t lit actually makes me find the joy I… Read more »

I absolutely love your take on your 1/3 lit tree.


Thank you so much for writing this! Your honesty is refreshing. I too have been battling feeling grateful for what I have (a home, working remotely with a full-time job, a lovely dog and good neighbors), with feeling lonely and missing connection (even with my co-workers who sometimes drive me crazy!). It hit me not long ago that my pandemic online shopping has been an effort to fill an emotional void (ugh). I agree with using decor in a color scheme that brings you joy. My Christmas decor, which I’ve collected over the years, contains items that really speak to me and instantly lifted my spirits when I pulled them out this last week. Between that, some new twinkly fairy lights I bought, a cozy, warm blanket, and the belief that this too shall pass (eventually), I’m thinking maybe the holiday won’t be so bad after all.


Oh, Jess! You are my favorite. I am so sorry for the genuine duress and thoroughly appreciative of your capacity to look at the situation with humor – the leaning tree, the color palette shift within a new context. You are a delight.

Thank you for your sacrifice! You are a literal lifesaver. Stealing structured zoom chat ideas. Wishing you connection (in whatever form, possible) and ease (if lacking in joy in excitement) this year.


My “quaranteam” friends and I decided even getting together for our socially distanced fire pit parties were too risky (we’re in SoCal where we won’t die of exposure). We decided to go back to Zoom and we’re going to have an Ugly Christmas Sweater / Decorate Your Zoom Background party to celebrate and add a little cheer and normalcy to our lives. Thanks for posting, people don’t realize how. damn. hard. it is for us singles.


Love the honest emotions in this. Also – love the candle situation on your mantel! Where, oh where, is that from?!


I feel you, too. Thanks for this post 🙂

On a side note: where did you get your gold standing lamp? I love love it.


First, this is a great piece. I live with my husband and kids so I don’t have personal experience, but we have family who are alone, and it is quite the balance of gratefulness for what we all have and sadness/grief/loneliness and all the other emotions we might feel. I think it’s great that you wrote this.
Second (less important :), with regards to your stockings. Check out chrislovesjulia’s holiday decor. She arranged her mantle asymmetrically and bunched all the stockings in the corner. When I saw that, I instantly thought of you because even one stocking in the corner would look cute and perhaps (hopefully? We can hope right?) exude a sense of self love. If you haven’t see it, check it out. It’s lovely and different. Just like aspects of this year.


I had actually bought a ticket back in October (wow, such hopefulness…) to see my parents next week for Christmas as I normally would but was waking up everyday with anxiety about traveling during this time and just ended up canceling my trip this weekend. Luckily my parents completely understood my fears but I’m now left wondering how to put myself in the Christmas spirit or what to do come that week. I live with my partner + dog so am not entirely alone but there’s definitely a huge feeling of something missing without my family and our usual traditions. For now, planning on a gift-opening zoom with my family and baking a buffet of alllllllll the Christmas cookies for two. Reading this post + comments has made me feel less alone about my anxiety, sadness, and given me ideas for wtf to do in such a strange year, thank you! 🙂

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