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Our Own Holiday

My family and I have officially declared a long week-end at the end of August as our annual “holiday” celebration. This was my grown son’s idea, and the rest of us have heartily embraced it. Our most recent “holiday” was glorious. We got together at my son’s place on an inlet of Puget Sound in Washington State where we enjoyed one another’s company as well as some boating and the magnificent view of Mt. Rainer across the bay.

Even though I was understandably travel weary and jet lagged when I got home to NYC, I was already looking forward to not schlepping across country during the actual winter holidays. My daughter and son-in-law and two precious grandsons live in Utah, so visiting them at Christmas always meant braving the bad weather and the crowded airports. I did that for many years, and I won’t miss it at all! We will Skype on Christmas day when the boys open their presents and I am safely ensconced in my cozy apartment where I live alone. (My husband and I were divorced some time ago and then he died.)

I’ll probably venture out to my favorite neighborhood restaurant to share Christmas dinner with my friends there. But maybe not. I could be very content ordering in and having my food brought right up to my apartment. I actually love my solitude, which is the positive version of loneliness. I listen to my favorite classical music while I eat, and for some reason my two cats have always respect dinner hour. They curl up nearby, but they never jump up on the table or beg for food. Later,  indulge in reading a favorite book.

I know that loneliness has gotten a bad rap recently, with some studies saying it’s deadlier than smoking. Yet I never feel lonely. That may be partly because I do have a lot of friends. I see many of them when I take an evening ballet class several times a week. Even so, if I skip going to class because of a heavy workload or bad weather, I’m still happy. Perhaps growing up as an only child of older parents contributed to my feeling of peace when I’m by myself. Whatever the reason, I like being in my own company. I’m grateful for how I feel. Perhaps most people with writing careers share my feeling. We are, in a very real sense, alone with our thoughts. That’s when we’re most productive.

What I hope, though, is that I’m not selfish. A woman who lives on my floor reads to the blind. I find that very inspiring. I have taught dance off and on for most of my life, which gave me a sense of helping others, but now I may need to find another way to give back.

For the moment, though, I’m reveling in the realization that I won’t be flying across the country come December.

And I’m already looking forward to our family “holiday” next August!

Sondra Forsyth is a Co-Editor-in-Chief of thirdAge.com.

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