A Jewish friend refers to Christmas as the loneliest day of the year for Jews. As a fellow Jew, I heartily agree .  And as a solo parent, it’s doubly lonely, or has been. My son’s father is Christian and gets scooped up by his family to create a special Christmas for our son, which I’m excluded from. I don’t share the national holiday, I don’t get to be with my son (who knows he’s having a much better time than I am), and am ignored by the family who benefits from the gorgeous son I’ve raised. The upside is I don’t have to buy them presents nor tolerate their company for the day!

There is enormous pressure at Christmas time to be with family and be “happy.” But if this is the year when your child(ren) are to wake up at your ex-partner’s home at Christmas, there can be a sense of isolation not only from family but from society as a whole. Christmas is loaded with religious, social, and consumer expectations that are generally unrealisable and unfortunately foster a feeling of inadequacy for many.

I’m going to offer uncommon advice on Christmas: Look after yourself on Christmas, despite the focus on the child. Find a trusted friend who understands your sense of isolation; schedule in advance something fun and social for the day; find alternatives to alcohol and alcohol-focused occasions; make part of the day a celebration of the wonder of life and spend time with nature; volunteer at a soup kitchen; rest; do for yourself as you would do unto others. Celebrate your freedom from having to be with who might have been annoying in-laws, and your partner!

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Marta Fisch is a family and individual therapist, supervisor, and trainer. She loves playing with her son, dancing, and riding her bike to work. She's involved in community sustainability initiatives, which brings her hope and a sense of belonging. Marta grew up in California and has lived in New Zealand / Aotearoa for 20 years. You can find out more on her website

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