Christmas is for family

IT’S that time of the year when Santa Claus rears his red head accompanied by jingle bells and Christmas Carols.

You can already tell Johannesburg is shutting down for business as the mass exodus of people has already begun to provinces like the Eastern Cape, Kwazulu Natal, Western Cape and Limpopo.

Then beyond the borders of South Africa others still have to make the trek to far flung places like the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Nigeria, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is rumoured that Beitbridge border has become a temporary shelter as people languish at the border on average of two days before they gain passage into Zimbabwe.

Many people might actually sleep in transit in their determined bid to be home on that iconic Christmas Day. For the majority of us, Christmas holiday means travelling down to home of origin and being with kith and kin.

Whether you plan a white Christmas abroad or languishing at home, the ultimate idea underlying Christmas is to be in the company of your loved ones.

Whether you while up time with your immediate family or extended family the bottom line is that this is clearly a family-centred holiday. So what happens to those without family?

I guess someone might raise their eyebrows and say that there is no one out there without a family. That there is always somewhere you can be where you have a sense of belonging. I say this because people are now scattered the world over.

Some might not be able to afford the expensive trip home for Christmas. I guess then you might think of spending the Christmas holidays with friends and their families.

I know Christmas holidays can be especially challenging for the singles. I remember distinctly the Christmas of 2005.

I have traditionally spent Christmas with folks in Bulawayo. It has never really mattered as to my circumstances or where I am at any given point in my life, it has just been a default decision.

Now that year my parents decided to spend Christmas with their friends in Limpopo. In hindsight I should have just tagged along but I decided.

I would just house sit and find merriness elsewhere. The build up to Christmas was amazing. I went to parties and socialised. Come Christmas Day itself I found myself totally alone. Texting friends I realised they had already made plans to be with their families.

There is nothing more sobering than sitting down to a Christmas lunch by yourself. Now I have lived alone for a great part of my life so eating alone is no problem. I am one of those people who can go into a restaurant and declare table for one and have a meal alone.

However, there is something more poignant about being alone on Christmas Day. I normally enjoy my food but that day it left a bittersweet taste in my mouth. I think this is the worst nightmare for any singular person to experience.

This is the thing about Christmas. I reckon it is not the kindest holiday for singles. You can get through Valentine’s Day and Easter, but there’s just something about Christmas and the connotations that come with it that make you feel you want to be attached to something or someone.

So as we head towards another Christmas I think of all those people who are going to be alone for whatever reason. Some have lost a loved one during the year. Some have recently become divorced and will be spending Christmas alone for the first time.

Some have relocated to a new country and just don’t know or have anyone. I know it might be a hard concept to get your tongue around but there are a lot of lonely people out there, especially this time of the year.

So if you find yourself in this unenviable situation please I advise you do not spend Christmas Day alone and wallow in a pit of depression because I promise you the climate will be conducive.

So if you are one of these people make sure you make a plan in advance and the plan is to avoid being alone. This does not even have to involve spending considerable amounts of money. It could be as simple as attending a Christmas service at your church.

If you are not religiously inclined and cannot avoid being alone make sure you fill your day with activities. This could even be merely catching up with all your favourite TV series or a marathon reading session. This is not a time for soul searching and deep introspection.

If you can afford it then go somewhere. Misery does not thrive in company. Take heed there is nothing merry about being alone at Christmas.

Sue Nyathi is the author of the novel The Polygamist. You can follow her on Twitter @SueNyathi

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