5 Ways to Enjoy the Holidays When You Don’t Celebrate Them

Debbie Reslock

By Debbie Reslock | Dec 18th, 2018

The winter months can be a challenge for those who don’t observe the holidays, especially because there are several, including Hanukkah, Solstice, and Kwanzaa, and then there is the big one that, outside of its Christian origins, has created its own music, official shopping day and an entire channel’s salute to the sentimental.

But whether you choose to celebrate Christmas, because of religious or secular reasons, you’ll still most likely be affected, especially on December 25th, when businesses and even grocery stores often close for the day. So what can you plan for the holidays when you don’t plan to celebrate? Just remember that you can still create and honor traditions even if they’re not in step with what you see advertised. Here are a few ideas to consider.

Ways to enjoy yourself when not officially keeping the holidays

  1. If you like to cook but never have the time, here’s your chance. You likely have at least one day off so it’s a great time to test out your culinary skills in a more relaxed way. It doesn’t have to be a traditional turkey dinner or baking cookies, although some people love to create the season’s sense and smells even if they don’t celebrate the reason behind the menu. For an added challenge, take on the most complicated multi-course dinner that you’ve always wanted to make.
  2. Invite other non-celebrating friends to join you. Whether it’s people in your social circle, at work or those that you’d like to get to know better, remember that in place of singing traditional carols or readings, there’s still much to rejoice. Ask everyone to bring a quote or poem that has significance to them – or their top three New Year’s resolutions. Sharing time with friends, old and new, is a great way to spend a day off but can also be such a reminder of how blessed your life may be.
  3. Volunteer at a shelter or to serve dinner at a community meal for those who may have nowhere else to go. Just because you don’t celebrate the official holidays doesn’t mean you can’t spend the time doing something worthwhile. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks of our own lives but at this time of year, there’s no lack of opportunities to give back. Consider making your own tradition and collect food or clothing to donate in the month of December. Or how about adopting a family or child so you can provide a meal or toys for the kids who might otherwise go without?
  4. Decide to give yourself a holiday and a well-deserved day off. Stay in your pajamas, park yourself in front of the TV and have a movie marathon or binge-watch a favorite series that you’ve been wanting to catch up on. Add your best snacks and favorite red wine and give yourself the gift of totally enjoying this day of peace and quiet. It’s also the perfect time to build a fire, if you have access to one, and grab that book you’ve been meaning to read or dive into one of the classics that you always regretted had somehow passed you by.
  5. Even if the official holidays aren’t your tradition, there’s always the tried and true alternatives of not celebrating, like going to a movie and then heading off to your favorite Chinese restaurant, both of which tend to be open. This time of year can also offer fun seasonal activities like skiing, ice skating or sledding. Or if you’re a little tired of the cold and snow, think about doing the opposite and head to the beach.

Looking ahead to 2019

Holidays this time of year can put even more pressure on those who don’t celebrate because there’s no escaping the sounds and sights. But it doesn’t mean you can’t also look forward to the chance to take some time and reset. Whether it’s getting together with family or friends or taking a personal day just for yourself, nothing should stop you from creating your own traditions.

As we wrap up 2018, there’s yet another holiday, New Year’s, which quickly approaches. But this one we should all celebrate since there’s not a more natural time to reassess where we are and where we’d like to go. Statisticians tell us that only about eight percent of resolutions are kept but maybe if we took a little more time in deciding what we’d like to change in our lives, we’d do better.

I’ve always loved New Year’s because it seems to offer such hope. It can be an empty promise of course but if we want, it can also be a blank page so that we can start fresh or correct our course. So wherever you may be this time of year and whatever holiday you may or may not be celebrating, I do wish you all the best and encourage you to make this upcoming year one that will count.

One of my favorite sayings about aging is that at some point we need to realize it’s time to stop drifting and start rowing. Growing older is not easy and there may be unfulfilled dreams or regrets but we also need to remind ourselves that it’s never too late for us to write a new chapter. Or as Oprah Winfrey once said, “Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.” I think we can all raise a glass to that!

Debbie Reslock

Debbie Reslock

Debbie Reslock writes about and for the baby boomer and 55+ market, including the amazing journey of aging itself. Her blog, The Third Act, can be found at DebbieReslock.com.


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