A dash of . . .

A dash of . . .

holiday loneliness

Image by vivienviv0 from Pixabay

by Sheri McGregor, M.A.

There’s something about the holidays that draws me into the kitchen. The jaunty tunes, colorful displays, and homey scents of cinnamon and pine conjure comforting memories: Poking toothpicks into cupcakes, sucking on candy canes, and my mom following recipes she clipped from the newspaper. She committed the steps and ingredients to memory long before the food splatters and faded print rendered them unreadable. My mom was a practical cook who could stretch staples like milk and flour, or beans and potatoes, into tasty, stick-to-your-ribs food. Maybe you can relate.

I’m more of a toss, dash, and experiment sort, but in my own way, with my own creations, I’ve become a fantastic savory cook. Other than my bread making phase, baking hasn’t been my forte, but I know enough to get by. And as a busy working mom, one thing I learned was to substitute. Not enough butter or oil? There’s always applesauce … .or shortening (is that still around?). No buttermilk? Add lemon juice, white vinegar, or cream of tartar to regular milk. Low on cocoa powder? Well, dark coffee provides rich depth to decadent cakes. And that’s how it is in life. As our circumstances change, we learn to substitute and adapt.

I’m not suggesting that a new hobby or a few drops of almond extract will bring you to bliss, but just as applesauce instead of butter lightens the fat, fun pursuits can lighten the load. A spiritual retreat, travel plans, or a lighthearted friend can make life rich. Being engaged in our day-to-day routines, open to the people we meet, and trying new activities, gives us something to happily recall as we close our eyes and settle into sleep each night.

This time of year, when the holidays can bring feelings of loneliness and despair, learn to lean on and savor anything good. A favorite book, a catchy song, or an entertaining show. Friendly chit-chat with a fellow shopper, the service rep over the phone, and the neighbor who is also taking out the trash.

Do your children neglect or abuse you? Love yourself.

Give yourself the gifts of compassion, forward focus, and support

Add a dash of fun and keep what’s best for you in sight.

Related reading

Be sure to click on the highlighted words, which are links to related articles, within the text above. Also see:

Looking for the good

When adult children aren’t speaking to parents: Eating alone

When your adult children don’t like you: Lean on the bear necessities

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9 thoughts on “A dash of . . .

  1. Anonymous

    I just downloaded one of the many novels written by an old favorite author I used to read before I had kids. I’m excited to get back into the Hallmark-style world of the Amish and rekindle (no pun intended) an old love of reading — only now I can have the audio book and enjoy it with my favorite yarn craft — I’m making myself a colorful holiday throw and I’m very excited about it. Merry Christmas to me. <3

  2. Penny V.

    I look forward to your news letters and books!
    It is nice to know that I’m not alone!
    That there is others that understand,, my daughter has been estranged for 8 years.
    If I try to discuss with friends they ask what I did or what happened!
    She will not open up or make amends..
    I recently moved to FL retired have made some awesome new friends. I but I miss my daughter and still stuck !
    Thanks for all you do to get through the special days without out adult children .
    Happy Holidays and hugs.

  3. Forever saddened

    As you’ve stated Sherry this is a particularly difficult time of year. It has been mostly no contact for the last two years since my only grandson was born. I get to see him on special occasions only so Christmas will be one of them. It will be awkward but civil however I don’t feel like a grandmother as my ed took that away from me. Aside from this my son suffers from extreme anxiety and had to be privately hospitalized over the summer. He’s doing better but… anyhow I’ve gone down that rabbit hole a few times these past two weeks but am doing my best to climb out and stay out over the holidays. Thank you to you and other parents who understand the pain we share. Hope everyone has a wonderful year ahead. We definitely deserve it.

  4. Diane M.

    What I enjoy doing is driving around and looking at all the beautifully decorated homes. And on Christmas Eve they put out luminaria. I feel like I’m driving thru a scene from Camelot. Fine something you enjoy doing for the holidays. Make it special just for you. A special meal perhaps with a beautifully decorated place setting? Make new memories just for you. We don’t know what the future holds regarding our estranged kids. So make life happy NOW!

  5. Catherine

    I look forward to receiving your newsletter as they make
    Great deal of sense.
    I live in Tamworth NSW Australia and since I have following you I have stopped blaming myself for having no contact with my daughter as I had been doing that for five and half years.
    Thank you Sheri

    1. Janet J.

      I need to read the books. I’m trying to survive this. I lost my husband 2017. Last time I heard from daughter. I’ve sent gifts, letters, cards. Don’t even get a thanks or know they received it. Happy holidays!!

  6. Toni D.

    Thank you for your wise words. I find myself rereading your books this time of year and reminding myself to be kind to myself.

    Yours and others experiences help me make my own way.
    Blessings to you,


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