Christmas is going to be different this year. I became separated in February and, in the ensuing tussle over who gets the kids when at Christmas, my ex-wife eventually agreed that they could be with me from noon on Boxing Day, meaning that I would be by myself for Christmas Day for the first time in my life.

I put off dealing with what I would do that day for a while, until a couple of the amazing circle of friends and acquaintances I have been blessed with since moving to Vancouver learned that I would be on my own and invited me to spend Christmas dinner with them.

Don't get me wrong, but spending Christmas Day with someone with whom you don't normally have a social relationship is sadder than being alone. I really appreciated the thought (it really is quite a commitment to welcome a relative stranger to your table on what is already a busy day), but nothing makes you feel alone more than being with people for no other reason than to avoid just that.

So I thanked them for their kindness, said that that I had plenty of other things on both before and after, which I do, and that I would be fine on my own for the day itself.

And then, of course, I was faced with having to decide what I would do that day. I did briefly consider volunteering at one of the many worthy causes in the area but, being perfectly honest with myself, it would have been a hollow gesture, one designed to make me feel good but which would again have accentuated how different everything was now. If I really felt strongly about doing something like that on Christmas Day, I already would have been, regardless of whether I was on my own or not.

I am a person who places a lot of emphasis on ritual and symbolism, and Christmas Day, at least my kind of Christmas Day, is full of these. I thought of what it would be like to have a Christmas Day without them, sitting in my apartment by myself, and then asked myself why I couldn't have a Christmas Day anyway?

Gradually, the notion of blending old traditions with my new reality began to take shape in my mind. I found a recipe for turkey breast that I could do in the slow cooker while I was at church, I could make my favorite carrot side dish, get a Christmas pudding and a cake and all the other trappings, put on my favorite carols and have myself a very merry Christmas while enjoying what will probably turn out to be one of the few quiet days I will have during the holidays. To crown it all, my beloved Green Bay Packers take on the Chicago Bears in the evening to round off a perfect day.

So that's exactly what I will do. Some of the traditions from Christmases past I have had to let go of, but I will keep what I can and make this year's Christmas Day a day for myself, to enjoy and to reflect both on the events of the past year and on my new life to come. I will attend church, eat my dinner, call my scattered family, old and new, and open a beer or two and watch the game, happy and content in my new home.
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7/15/2013 02:53:20 pm

I have great planning's for this Christmas. This is my nephew's first Christmas and I really want to give her a great surprise. She is only 5 months, I know she can't understand anything but when she grew up the pictures can tell her how much I loved her.

7/30/2013 10:47:29 pm

This is really tough to be apart and i think you are so strong and hope you enjoyed Christmas and forget all worries.

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8/4/2013 06:45:15 pm

For this current year, I have not yet finalized any Christmas present. I will definately wait for the month of December.

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    About Me

    Recently separated, forty-something father of two. Navy, Green Bay Packers and Jeopardy! fan. Motorcycle rider and Information Technology refugee.

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