This is Life, Based on a True Story  

You don't have to be alone

I used to love Christmas. It was always guaranteed to please. There’d be presents and food, family and friends.

Nothing was better or cozier than opening presents on Christmas morning, staying in our PJs all day, playing with our newfound delights, while the smell of a scrumptious Christmas dinner wafted through the house.

My dad always had a fire burning in our fireplace, and my mom would spend weeks baking treats we weren’t allowed to touch till Christmas.

When I had my own kids and little family, I kept the same traditions I grew up with, and Christmas was always a family affair. I wanted to create the kinds of memories I had for my own kids, so they too would look back on Christmases past and feel that same warmth I did.

After my separation and subsequent divorce, things changed drastically in terms of holidays – not just Christmas. Christmas was just the hardest to handle.

I spent my first three Christmas Eves alone as my kids went to their dads on Christmas Eve and I’d get them the next day in the late morning.

Sure, I’d go and visit with the in-laws for a couple hours on Christmas Eve, but the time would always come when I’d have to go back to my home — alone. Those were the hardest moments and made me not only dread Christmas, but almost hating it.

My own family lives too far away to make the drive and getting plane tickets to go home was, and is, way out of my financial reach at this time of year. (One of my pet peeves — the airlines know they’re going to sell out the seats, no matter what. What’s the point of making it so only an elite few can afford to fly at Christmas?) But I digress …

I got to the point where I could just block out holidays – don’t go on social media, find something good to watch on TV, treat myself to a bottle of wine I wouldn’t normally buy and act like it was any other day.  

It’s a very lonely feeling to feel alone … but what I learned was, I wasn’t alone.

In the true spirit of the universal rule of like attracting like, I became friends with other single moms in the same boat. Not only were they in the same boat, they had also developed the same loathing for Christmas and other holidays that I had.

Perfect! Now, I had cohorts.

But instead of wallowing in our self-pity, we decided to just be together instead. We’d spend time together at Christmas and fill each other’s gratitude tanks so full that when we left to go to our own homes, we felt luckier and more loved than ever before.

And for me, that’s the key to fulfillment and happiness.

We’re all in this race together – the Human Race. We all have the same primal instincts to love and be loved. And this column is simply a reminder of that.

Perhaps you know of someone like me – divorced and sharing custody. Ask them if they have plans this Christmas and invite them to spend some time with you and yours. It’ll make everyone feel good to share those moments.

Or maybe you know someone who recently lost their spouse. Don’t assume they have other family to be with — they might not. Make the effort to ensure they’re not alone.

There are so many foreign students and others here in our fair town. Check in with them to see if they have someone to spend the holidays with.

Their gratitude and appreciation will be enough of a gift to carry you through till the next holiday.

Now, speaking of gratitude …

My Grow the Gratitude Project has started off better than I expected – thank you everyone who has contributed stories about kindness and pay-it-forward moments.

I knew the Okanagan would be good for it and I’m not disappointed.  

I still needing tons more submissions though, so please continue spreading the word and sending your stories to [email protected]. Don’t forget, I’d love to see your kid’s drawings depicting kindness too.

Full details are in my last column.

To wrap up, it’s our duty to look out for each other. And if you like to believe in karma coming back to you — then looking out for others ensures you’ll get a good return.

Thanks for reading.


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About the Author

Tanya Gunderson has been writing for the heck of it for many years. Her inspiration comes from her kids, their friends and the craziness of life. She takes great pleasure in exposing life for what it really is and has an open-book approach to her writing.

Her formal education and background include a blink-and-you miss-it stint in the radio and television industry, but it gave her an opportunity to write professionally on a few different occasions.

Email: [email protected]



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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