A Lonely Christmas – A Sobering Solitude

So here is the third Christmas I am away from family and feeling lonely. My vacation was in the month of February, so I don’t get to be with family during Christmas. Yesterday, one of my friends asked me if someone in my Christian friends circle had invited me to spend Christmas with their family. I said no, and that I wasn’t bothered that I wasn’t. Today, my father asked me why none, from the many Churches that I went to, had invited me. It was tough to give an answer, the way the question was phrased. I finally said, “Well, folks are busy”. My Dad found it incredible that I was not invited at all. That bothered me and got me thinking…
I don’t lack Christian friends in Houston. On an average I spend about 10 – 12 hours a week with Churches and Church related fellowships, that is excluding the social events I get invited to by folks in the Christian fellowships. I go to three Churches an Episcopal (which is my mother Church), an Emergent and a non-deonominational, (rarely I also go to an AG church and an Orthodox Church). I enjoy my Church life in Houston. I attend multiple services and multiple small group fellowships in the three Churches. I folks lots of in the small group fellowships who can be called ‘friends’. So I too really find it incredible that I am having to spend Christmas alone devoid of any Christmas festivities.
I can perfectly accept the fact that I haven’t been invited by anyone here, because everyone is crazily busy during Christmas. If I were to have a family of my own here and if there was to be a new guy here who did not have a family, and was lonely during Christmas, I too may have been too crazily busy with my own family affairs during Christmas that the thought of inviting him may never have crossed my mind.
Besides, getting invited for Christmas is often a matter of time, chance and matter. When I meet families at Church fellowships, if time, chance and matter were if any help, it would have ‘occurred’ to them that I would be alone during Christmas, they would have felt like wanting to invite me. But I think, the confluence of time, chance and matter this time wasn’t in my favor during this Christmas season. When I met people at Church, it did not ‘occur’ to anyone to even ask what I was up to during Christmas. This just is the way it IS. This isn’t anything to regret over.
The reason why I write what I write is not to rant about situations, but to reason with myself as to why I find myself in this predicament. After all, most writing that is done in journals and blogs is an act of reasoning to ones own self to make sense of life.
Apart from the two reasons stated above, I believe there is a third reason which I believe, is essentially the root cause as to why I am having to spend this Christmas alone. I am going to take the longer route to get to this reason. I believe it has to do with how people build relationships in their lives.
There are I believe, at least three types of relationships
1. Acquaintances
2. Friends
3. Caring Relationships
Family and close friends fall under the category of ‘caring relationships’. The reason why I believe I haven’t been invited by anyone for Christmas , in spite of all the long hours I have clocked in Church fellowships and related social event, may be because I have never really fostered ‘caring relationships’. In other words, I don’t have close friends here. I have got lots of friends, singles and families, in Christian circles and lot more acquaintances. There are quite a good number of friends I meet with often, almost weekly. There are two or three who would qualify for fairly close friends whom I meet over lunch or dinner and chat for a couple of hours about life and stuff. But I now begin to doubt if I really have any deeply close friends who really care.
I wonder why this is so, that I don’t really have close friends in the US. I wonder if there is something wrong with my personality or with my lifestyle that has prevented me from having deeply close friends in the US. I do not know the answer. By the time I figure out the answer, if at all I figure it out, I believe I would have gone past the sobering phase of my solitary Christmas season.
I believe something good has come out of this hitherto lonely experience, at least in that I now know a little bit more about me and my life and the kind of relationships that I have in he US.
Is he alone he who writes.
Is he alone he who reads.
Reader communes with the Author.
Writer communes with himsef.
But one cannot read all the time,
Neither can one write all the time.
All activities have an end. Good solitude begins.
But when unhealthy, morphs into loneliness.
Why is the sensitive soul lonely?
Why does the lonely soul need
Someone to care about
And to be cared for by someone?
Caring relationship, unlike reading and writing
Has a life of its own which pervades
The realm of activities. And even when all activities stop
The relationship still exists.
When all activities, reading or writing, cease
And the mind cannot be distracted anymore,
The very sense of caring and being cared for
Stands its ground in the calm of the storm of pointless activity.

Author: Emmanuel R Paulpeter

I am a writer, spiritual director, life coach and a Church Planter who love all things pop culture, theology and spirituality.

2 thoughts on “A Lonely Christmas – A Sobering Solitude”

  1. Emmu,Christmas in the US is usually a family holiday plus a privacy holiday where folks try to snatch some time with those in their closest circle and take a break from the 'busyness' of the previous 11 months. So it's usually odd for them to spend time with friends and acquaintances since they do that rest of the year.In fact, a number of churches dont even have a 'christmas service' like in India since it's generally known that people are having some much needed time with their dear ones. It's a Family Holiday more than a Religious Holiday, even for the Christians.really it cant be compared on an indian perspective.-Prabhu from iCy

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  2. Prabhu, Thanks for your comment. I am glad a good soul finds my ramblings worthy of a glance and a comment.I think the Indian Christmas is as much a family thing as is the American Christmas, except that most people in India have made Church to be a part the 'family-togetherness' thing. My observation here in the US (south) is that non-demoninational churches do not have Christmas eve services, but the other ones have two or three to manage the overflow.Honestly, I am a little disappointed with Christmas here. I have had at least 20 people ask me what I did for Christmas and I have had to say, "Well, nothing". Then I get the "what is wrong with you" look… I am just trying to think what is wrong with me… I don't blame the system or culture or whatever… I am just trying to wonder why I find it a very bitter pill to swallow. And why this experience is kind of changing my understanding of life… If much of life is SO much about family, what is the point not having one?

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