'I went to the cinema on my own' my friend Ben exclaims as if he has just told me a dark secret. I am half expecting at any moment for him to look around to make sure we aren't being watched and then sliding an envelope over to my side of the table, which will contain further instructions and a map.
I am proud of this development of his, there has been many times when I have recommended he try certain things and challenge himself. There are certain things I have no aversion to and doing things normally regarding as social activities, all by myself. I have often gone to see movies without the accompaniment of a friend and I have and prefer eating alone in restaurants. I love to read and eat at the same time, so it works out perfectly for me. A couple of years ago, I set myself a challenge to go out alone, and I chickened out more than once, it took the intervention of a friend to finally force me to answer that challenge, when I was invited out and then abandoned within a few minutes, followed by an encouraging text message - telling me I could do it. It was a perfectly fine evening and although I got talking to many different people, it didn't feel right. Going out, drinking and socialising is just something that I enjoy doing more with friends. But before then, I never would have walked into a club or a bar without knowing there was someone in there I already knew, now I can easily relax in a bar with a drink and wait for friends without feeling self conscious.
So I was proud of my friend Ben, who is socially introverted and relies on the company he keeps to partake in social activities. It was this conversation that got me thinking about how I should spend Christmas this year. Possibly alone.
The simple truth is, I would like to spend Christmas this year with the people I love, my Mother and my siblings. However I can't get enough time off work to make it home this year, with just two days off for the Christmas period. My brother is also away this year, his working keeping him in New Zealand for the foreseeable future and being so far away at such a special time, I know he is feeling very homesick. We have made plans to Skype each other on Christmas day, and depending on if he has any plans with his friends or not, I have suggested that I cook something and put in the microwave, and when he is ready to eat, we can eat together over Skype and open the presents we sent each other.
That still leaves me with the day time, to fill and make plans for. I have been welcomed around to several different places for Christmas day and I know these offers have been made with sincere intentions. But I don't want to intrude on anyones day and I also don't want to feel awkward being around people I don't know that well. Christmas traditions can be special and private and to be honest, the whole thing seems like too much pressure. My roommate has suggested that we cook in our flat and have some drinks, should he decide to stay in the city for the Christmas period, something which I am more open to doing.
But I have also given consideration to what I would do, if I was to spend my first Christmas alone. What kind of humor would it put me in. In my head, I am watching Christmas movies on my couch, eating too much and feeling very much relaxed. But if I was to make that commitment to myself, could I do it? Last year, I had a perfect Christmas, spent the day with my family, evening with friends and then I spent the night alone, watching movies and dozing on the couch and I very much liked spending the time by myself. But I had the right mix of company and me time.
Can I do it? Spend Christmas alone. I guess we will see.