Contributor to …

Weathering the Storm anthology

‘Happy Birthday to me …’ by Melusine Draco

There comes a time in everyone’s life when they find themselves spending birthdays alone.  Or what to many would seem even worse, celebrating a solitary Yuletide … especially if we’ve come from a large or close-knit family.  After any form of relationship or friendship break-up, it can be difficult to adjust to life without that person and spending time on our own can feel isolating. Over the years, death and separation part us from our loved ones and the prospect of being alone for these important and personal festivals can turn them into depressing and daunting occasions.  But isolation can also be a blessed state … and as pagans we should have perfected the art of making the most out of those solitary moments.

Solitude frees the mind up from all the distractions of everyday life and allows it to focus more fully on one thing. It allows our brain to think outside the box and to come up with unique, extraordinary solutions to ordinary problems.  Solitude can enhance creativity.  Not only that, taking a little time for ourselves refreshes and re-energizes us. It allows us to think more clearly and make better decisions. Taking ‘Me-time’ also builds our self-esteem over time, as we come to accept that we are important and deserve to have a little time to ourselves.

Some people really don’t like to be alone, whereas others are perfectly content spending time alone at home.  A friend of mine, recently widowed, filled every waking moment with some actively and during the current virus-crisis is finding it extremely difficult to cope with her enforced isolation. Although there’s no right or wrong way to be, we often find that people who are happy to be alone (at least some of the time) are more self-confident and generally more satisfied with life.  By perfecting the Me-time habit we could be enriching our own individual life-style.

Birthdays were always important in our family, not because of any great extravagance but because we always spent them together to do something special.  Then one by one those people left the stage and the performance became a soliloquy. Nevertheless, a birthday is a time to celebrate birth itself. It is an expression of thanks to the gods for being born and for still being alive. It is also an occasion to rethink our life; to reflect on the past, evaluate our present and make plans for our future. It is a time when our past intersects with our present and future.   And so we set that day aside each year and make it special by …

Giving ourselves the gift of time. Sometimes our days are so packed with events and tasks that we don’t have time for ourselves. Consider giving ourselves the gift of time for our own rest and relaxation … treating ourselves to a spa day; visiting a museum, exhibition or concert.

Eating our favorite food. It’s our day – we deserve it, whether it’s eating in or out. Perhaps a special birthday lunch or afternoon tea in luxurious surroundings without thinking about the cost.  Worry about dieting and health tomorrow.

Doing a favorite childhood activity. Maybe it was going to the zoo, the aquarium or a theme park. Whatever it was, do it today! Do it as a way to reignite our inner child and our creativity. Do it for the pure enjoyment. We will be amazed at how good it will make us feel.  For example: Once upon a time, in the 1960s (in fact), Dreamland (Margate) was at the cutting edge of fairground excitement but now it has a whole other agenda: rather than competing with the high-tech thrills of Alton Towers and Thorpe Park, it offers a gentle retro vision of seaside fun’.  Oh, I remember it well I think I’m goin’ back …

Laughing out loud. Do something that makes us laugh with delight! Laughter feels good and is good for us.

Setting some new goals. Today is a perfect day to look forward, to project into the future, to set goals for the next twelve months and become more adept at spending our Me Time alone.  Make amazing plans for the next year’s birthday – and book that cruise if that’s what we fancy.

So, we celebrate our birthday each year because it’s always good to acknowledge that we exist on this earth.  Of course, we would like to have family and friends around us but age and distance often makes that impossible. At the start of the year mark off MY BIRTHDAY in the diary, book the day off work if necessary – whether we work for ourselves or for someone else – and go and do something we’ve always wanted to do.  This is the future – go out and say ‘hello’ to it!

If, on the other hand, we’ve decided to spend Yule alone, then the same rules still apply. It can be rather daunting to actually plan for a solitary celebration, but since the whole focus of the holiday is usually getting together with those close to us – and if those people are no longer around – then the exercise can be seen as pointless.  The solitary life-style is amplified at this time of year and all the hype that is geared around spending time with family often creates the impression that if we’re not part of the extravagance then we’re nothing but a sad git! There’s a vast difference, however, between being alone and being lonely. And although outsiders might think it a bit strange, the company of the cat or dog means that there’s someone in the home to talk to and snuggle up with, and discuss what we’re going to watch on telly.

That said, if mum and dad are no longer around, there is no earthly reason we should be expected to endure the unendurable that families insist on inflicting on each other at this time of year. Make it known – well in advance – you will be ‘home alone’ for Yule and intend enjoying it. Having come from a family where Christmas revolved around my father and grandfather, it was difficult to maintain the enthusiasm following their deaths, but the thought of spending ‘the Day’ solitary never entered the equation.

It was my good friend Polly, who changed my way of thinking because she’d spent ‘the Day’ alone for years and actually looked forward to it. Her preparations were no less enthusiastic with all her favourite foods and a couple of bottles of her chosen tipple shopped for well in advance. From Christmas Eve the candles and fire were lit, with a boxed set (or two) ready for the watching and a selfie-present of a good book, she and the dog snuggle in for two days of sheer indulgence without any interference (or criticism) from outside. When my turn came for the solitary Yule, I took a leaf out of her book and made my own preparations well in advance and enjoyed it, too!  And I must confess that I always treat myself to a v-e-r-y expensive present …

When well-meaning friends and neighbours insist on me sharing a traditional meal because: ‘You don’t want to be on your own on Christmas Day!’ – the answer is, of course, ‘Yes, I do!’ and risk giving offense. If we’re not eating out, this is a day to batten down the hatches with all the things we like to eat, snuggle up warm with the dogs, a boxed set (one year it was the complete dvd set of the Works of William Shakespeare!) – and enjoy. Warn everyone well beforehand that this is our intention and we don’t want to be disturbed. Observe the night by (safely) lighting up the house with dozens of candles to welcome back the sun…and feast well if not wisely on this occasion.

 Weathering the Storm is an anthology published by Moon Books – www.moon-books.net

A nice review on Goodreads for interest:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53404786-weathering-the-storm?from_search=true&from_srp=true&qid=lqQbjtTx8f&rank=35#other_reviews

 

 

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