By BRENNA WEAVER, LPC
What if I want to be alone on Christmas?
Question: 2020 has been a rough year, and I have no desire to celebrate Christmas with my family. How do I tell them I want to be left alone to rest and recover?
Answer: 2020 has indeed been a rough year for many! The COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest around the country, and the election — on top of everyday stressors of personal and professional life — weigh heavy. I am sorry to hear you are exhausted and have no desire to celebrate Christmas with your family. Upon reading your question, I automatically thought of Matthew 11:28 — “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
In what ways have you tried to find rest during this hard year? You might be tempted to say, “There’s no time to rest; I am too busy.” As believers, we are called to rest — to rest from work, and to rest in Him. Peter Scazzero writes in “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality”: “We stop on Sabbaths because God is on the throne, assuring us the world will not fall apart if we cease our activities.” It is OK to give yourself permission to rest.
Practically, rest looks different for everyone. Find what works for you, whether it’s a walk around the block in the early morning hour, or 10 minutes locked in the bathroom while the kids are playing. Rest is essential for good physical, spiritual and mental health.
Believe it or not, rest can also look like spending Christmas alone if you are clear on your motivations and communicate effectively. Saying, “I have no desire to spend Christmas with my family” is a broad and ambiguous statement. Do you feel emotionally drained after spending time with family? Is your family’s focus at Christmas something other than celebrating the birth of Jesus, and you would rather avoid it? Take time to really pause, pray, and consider why you are wanting to be alone during this Christmas season. Your decision should be thoughtful and not reactionary.
If, after taking some time, you feel led to spend the holiday alone, clear communication with family members is important. You might be tempted to craft creative excuses to head off extensive questioning or ameliorate unpleasant feelings. Maybe you lean in the other direction and are particularly brash in communicating, so the message comes across as loudly as possible. Neither is necessary. As Ephesians 4:15 tells us, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.” Clear is kind.
Once you have made your decision and shared it with family, how will you spend the time? What will refresh you the most? Again, pause, pray, and consider what it is you hope to gain during this time alone. 2020 has been difficult, and we must ultimately remember where our hope lies — in Christ. Seek His face as you rest at Christmastime. As Jeremiah 31:25 reminds us, “For I will satisfy the weary soul, and every languishing soul I will replenish.” Merry Christmas.
Brenna Weaver is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Ridgeland working with clients 18 years and older. She has experience as a secondary education teacher and children’s therapist. When not working, she enjoys reading, eating good food, and traveling.