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.
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!).
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