sadgingerbreadThere are worse things than being alone.”  ~Charles Bukowski (and he wasn’t a misogynist at all).

Maybe you can’t afford a plane ticket home this year. Maybe you’ve spent all of your vacation days (and what little disposable income you have) traveling to and attending the weddings of various friends who decided the mid-20s are as good an age as any to get married. Maybe your mom is going to France with that douche bag she’s dating now who always calls you “Champ” or “Sport” or “Big Man” and you don’t want to endure a week of that noise.

Maybe…you made your family disappear.*

Whatever the case, you are about to spend Christmas alone. You may be mopey about this. But don’t worry. It’s not that bad. In fact, it can be a lot of fun. Trust me. I’ve been there. In darker times, I was working at a newspaper in western Pennsylvania and had to work on Christmas Day in a town where I knew very few people.

Is it ideal? Of course not. Almost nobody who even vaguely celebrates Christmas wants to be alone on Christmas. But I’ve learned that the happiest people are often the ones who are able to make the most out of less than ideal situations.

Here are some things you might want to do if you find yourself alone on Christmas.

  • Sleep in. Turn that workweek alarm off. Take a Benadryl if you want. The day is in diapers, my man. It can be delightful to spend an entire day by yourself, but you don’t want to run out of super awesome solo activities by 5 p.m. I always find it better to start and end the day late than to start and end it early. Going to bed early on Christmas screams crippling loneliness. Sleeping in means I’m a single baller who gives zero ducks and knows damn well that Santa didn’t come this year and I should be in no rush to leave the comforting folds of my bed.
  • Help out some people in need. You know what is simultaneously satisfying, needed, dope, and vaguely Christlike? Doing something for people less fortunate than you on the day we celebrate JC’s birthday. You may be alone, but at least you have a home and the ability to regularly feed yourself via your own funding, and a semblance of mental health. You won’t be lonely if you go serve some food to people who will greet you with a level of stokedness you never dreamt possible, just because you’re ladling out some gravy. (But if you do something like this, refrain from Instagramming a bunch of pictures of yourself with vagrants, and if you have the urge to type #blessed at any point, for any reason, quickly punch yourself in the junk and pull it together.)
  • Go play with puppies. That will generate quid pro quo delight for some dogs who don’t have a loving family to care for them, or a stalking to get treats in this year.
  • Work the phones and Internet. Give a few people a quick buzz to wish them a happy holiday. It’ll fill your heart with happiness to know that love is not something that can only be felt in close proximity. Send a Snapchat of your you-know-what with glitter on it to a bunch of people (unless you’re a politician). Being on your own doesn’t mean you can’t make a day memorable to many.
  • Do something alone that you would not do in the presence of others. Like, for example, putting glitter on your jawn and taking a downstairs selfie, while chugging a milkshake and executing a power stance with your right foot up on the coffee table. You just can’t do that when you’re with the fam. (Not even if you’re still marooned at the kids’ table.) Try not to think about that quote “Character is who you are when no one is watching.”
  • Make some gnosh. Whip yourself up something worthy of King Joffrey’s. Make way too much of it. Crush as much as you can, until your belly is bloated enough to balance a beer can on. Then throw the rest in the fridge, because a holiday is only as great as its leftovers. Or just order Chinese. That’s always a winner. Just don’t be surprised if they don’t sing “fa-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-ra-rah” when they deliver it. That only happens in Cleveland.**
  • Take a nap. There’s nothing like crashing out for a few after a gluttonous feast. To get ultra-relaxed, pretend you’re playing a game with everybody else napping out there to see whose metabolism can slow the most in a three-hour period.
  • Proactively avoid the Holiday Season Hangover by decorating your apartment for Houseplant Appreciation Day (January 10). Morale will be better for everybody if you keep the anticipatory celebrations going.
  • Watch some TV. This is a fun way to pass the time, and it’s likely already a pretty significant aspect of your daily routine. It will create a feeling of normalcy in your day. You can even watch some basketball. The Heat play the Lakers, so you can fantasize about dunking on LeBron James’s stupid head, just like you do at least eighty-two other days of the year. That dude is such a disease.***
  • Get drunk. Christmas is a good day to discover why me and millions of others the world over disagree with the rampant criticism re: drinking alone. I think it’s OK to drink a little bit by yourself. Drinking is fun, and it makes most things better (with the obvious exceptions of, like, operating heavy machinery and text messaging ex-girlfriends). Hell, do some drugs. Not like anybody’s going to see you, right? Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em, and such. Just don’t roll it in Bible paper. Not today.
  • Have a good cry. Again, it’s not like anybody is going to see you doing it. You don’t have to hold back and muffle your tiny yelps like you do when your roommates are in town. You can get in some of those real, real good sobs where you inhale rapidly three times for each labored exhalation. It’s OK to miss your family and friends, and to allow your tear ducts to express these emotions as they see fit. If you’re feeling especially brash, send a selfie of your tear-ashen face to a bunch of people. Weeks later, gather a list from your friends of the thoughts that came to their mind when they received a glittery photo of your john, followed in quick succession by a photo of you crying while still power-stancing.
  • Think ahead to next year. You’re not going to be alone on Christmas forever. And if you feel like it’s possible you will be, spend some time thinking and planning for how you can improve your life in 2014.

*I may not always know what I’m doing, but I do realize you can’t write a story about Christmas without a Home Alone reference.

**A Chrismas Story, for the win.

***I dropped in another Home Alone reference in hopes it would excite you loyal John Hughes fans.