• Nancy Bauer

Alone for the Holidays? These Women Aren't Having It

Updated: Nov 7, 2019

Kathleen King had spent one Christmas alone, and she wanted no part of another.


Like many women in her age group—she’s 66--her parents have passed, and her once-close siblings have splintered off into their own lives. Her only daughter has a law office in San Francisco, six states away from Kathleen’s home in Wisconsin, and anyway, this Christmas she's traveling. So Kathleen was looking at another “awful” holiday on her own.


“It's hard to be around families enjoying their time together on that day,” she said in a post on Conde Nast’s hugely popular Facebook group, Women Who Travel, “so I'm thinking of going someplace where I can celebrate with groups in the U.S. or abroad. Maybe be with people who help refugees - something such as that? Does anyone have any ideas?”


Within 48 hours, she was digging through more than 150 responses and three invitations to come and spend the holiday with other Women Who Travel members.


“I had felt so alone,” she wrote to me when I contacted her. “I was thinking there weren't many others out there with the same dilemma and I've been just thrilled with the thoughtful, wonderful responses. It's amazing how women have reached out and even offered their home to me on Christmas.”


Some of the women offered up volunteerism ideas, and others encouraged her to travel. (Side note: women-only travel groups are now officially a trend.)


A few women suggested “anti-Christmas” trips to Sin City (aka Vegas) or a country that doesn't do Christmas. Several thought she should make her house a haven for others who are celebrating solo.


It took Kathleen most of an evening to read and reflect on all the ideas, not to mention the abundant "me too" words of encouragement. She answered everyone who posted, including the three ladies – one in New Jersey, one in New York City, and one right nearby - who invited her to visit.


“Aren’t women wonderful - especially as we get older?,” she wrote to me via email. “I feel eternally grateful that I am a woman at this age. Most of us have put behind us all of the petty, childish emotions that hindered our growth all those years. We’ve had careers, husbands, children - taken care of parents and family members - and we are finally realizing that we actually exist as a sole entity.


“Through that realization,” she continued, “we’re learning how important it is to connect to our peers. We go to them for solace, for validation, for companionship and so much more that we feel only other women can give - because we’ve all been there! It’s truly a gift that could come from nowhere else.”


For now, Kathleen’s thinking about a volunteer activity close to home; surprisingly, several of the women who responded took the time to research opportunities near Racine, where Kathleen lives, and compiled tips and links for her. A few possibilities in Greece also sounded intriguing, and so did a couple of weeks helping a refugee organization. All good ideas for later, if not for Christmas.


Later, Kathleen wrote to me again. “It's interesting to hear others' takes on the issue,” she said, “and it’s made me realize that though my family of origin got together every Christmas, without fail, from birth on, I can't expect my daughter to do the same. I never pressured her to, but it's never been a real "Christmas" to me without her.



Kathleen King and daughter Amanda


“This experience has totally changed my attitude towards spending holiday times alone - and I can’t wait to tell my daughter. I don’t want her to feel guilty about not being able to come home, and this will truly help me convince her. I'm looking forward to creating new traditions for myself.”


See the Women Who Travel group's recommendations for how to spend the holidays when you’re flying solo.

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