I had absolutely no idea what I was in for with this whole lonely holiday thing. I had been in a relationship for 10 years. No one told me the holidays are a big ol’ billboard sign reminding you of whatever you feel like your life is missing.
I thought I was doing so well, the random crying had stopped, I was coming out of my sulking mode, and then the holidays hit.
Why the holidays? Social media is the first culprit. Scroll down your newsfeed at any given point, and you’ll see holiday messages from all the seemingly-perfect families around. Everyone is suddenly listing all the things they’re thankful for.
You’re happy for them, you are. And you have a lot to be thankful for, too. But you can’t help thinking you’re missing something.
Then come the Christmas photo cards. Yes, they’re adorable. Yes, you love seeing all your friend’s babies in their holiday outfits throwing glitter and glowing under Christmas lights.
But, let’s be honest. In the back of your mind, there’s that voice telling you you’re behind in life’s timetable.
Let’s not forget the holiday music (used to love it, now can’t stand it), trying to hang holiday lights by yourself (gave up when half the strand was out), and digging through last year’s Christmas decorations (only to find your old anniversary ornaments). Ugh!
I don’t think I realized exactly how hard the first Thanksgiving and Christmas alone would be. And I’m lucky enough not to be literally alone- I have amazing friends and family around me. But, as much as they’ve tried to surround me with support, nothing could’ve saved me from this round of feelings.
Someone came pretty close though.
It was about a week before Christmas. I had been coming home from work collapsing on the couch exhausted everyday, trying to dance around these feelings creeping their way back in.
My phone buzzed, and I checked it expecting to find a check-in text from one of my friends. Except it was a number I didn’t recognize, and here’s what it said:
“Ho ho ho! Only 7 more days ’til Christmas. Hope you’re enjoying the Christmas chaos! -Rick”
I smiled at the Christmas message from this stranger. I don’t know anyone named Rick with that area code, but I thought I’d just let it go.
I didn’t respond, thinking that was the end, but it was only the beginning. The next day I received another message:
“6 days ’til Christmas! Wishing you joy and happiness. -Rick”
The messages continued like this until Christmas. Now, admittedly, I probably should have told this guy he had the wrong number. But, I was kind of enjoying the holiday cheer.
Finally, on Christmas morning, just when I was feeling the most alone, I received a final Christmas wish from Rick.
“Seth, Wishing you love and hope on this beautiful Christmas day. May you find peace and connection with those around you. Enjoy your day. -Rick”
Since this message had a name in the greeting that clearly wasn’t mine, I thought I’d better tell Rick his messages hadn’t been reaching Seth.
“Rick, I’m so sorry I didn’t tell you this sooner, but you have the wrong number. Your messages cheered up my holiday, and I was selfishly enjoying the Christmas countdown. Have a Merry Christmas. -Alissa”
I was a little nervous my new friend Rick would be upset, but he wasn’t.
“That’s Ok! Glad my messages brought cheer to someone on this holiday. Have a great Christmas! -Rick”
I wanted to let Rick know he had done a good deed, so I responded telling him how the holidays had been difficult for me, but his messages brightened my day.
Rick responded with a simple thought, but it turned my whole attitude around.
“I’m celebrating alone this year, so I can relate to feeling that certain holiday sadness. But, we have to remember how lucky we are. We have food, warm beds, and friends and family surrounding us. Even during times when we think we’re missing something, there’s a lot to be thankful for. -Rick”
Rick saved me this Christmas. Our conversation ended there, and I’ll probably never speak to him again, but I know why his texts reached my number as he counted down his blessings in honor of the Christmas season.
I needed Rick’s reminders and positive light, and as usual, I have The Universe to thank for sending it my way.