It’s the worst question ever. Right up there with ‘have you lost a little weight lately?’

a pretend donkey friend who really just lives on my LR pillow

It only pops up around the holidays and comes from those well intended. I’ve been asked a million times and it always felt like a .22LR  in the heart. Eventually I got used to it. I knew what was coming and I came up with a few good answers.

“Do you have somewhere to go?”

Colleagues, neighbors, friends of friends. They all ask it and I’m sure have no idea how thoughtless and rude it really is. They want to include you in their holiday festivities but instead of asking in a pleasant way, an inclusive way, out comes “do you have somewhere to go?” Not once in all these years did I answer in the negative and I’ve spent plenty of holidays on my own. My dog, a beauty of a black cocker spaniel and my little tabby cat joined me in my own festivities of a 24-hour Law & Order marathon, Stouffer’s pasta dishes, cheetos and some eggnog that I didn’t have to share.

I can teach you how to survive. And after all, it’s simply a 24 to 48 hour time period. It will pass.

First, make yourself a calendar, a schedule if you will.

A week before Christmas, find out if your community has a soup kitchen and needs some help. Get yourself a good who-done-it, a thriller, a big one. Buy an Aromatique – brand candle in Smell of the Tree. Grocery shop for some favs. Write down your plans at the beginning of each day (it’s fine that the days look the same), come home and read a few chapters, enjoy the scent and know you will get through this.

Christmas Eve is when it hits. Everyone is wearing bright red outfits or sweaters. Don’t watch the news. The newscasters will reminisce about all the special foods their mothers made. The stories are about the lonely, the hospitalized and those who will do without.  Take a walk and look at the Christmas lights. They will be on all night and tonight is when even the most frugal will out do their neighbors. Just like the newscasts, do not watch even one Lifetime movie. The perfect families gathered around the perfect tree opening up the perfect gifts are made up. The real families attend the 7 PM AA meetings on Christmas Eve.

The Law & Order marathon starts early, usually around 9 AM on Christmas Day. You’ll want to get up early and get some eggnog before things start. The rule is that you have to take a swig when the emphatic chords of the theme song sound. Send a happy text to close friends and when they ask what you’re up to, reply “very busy”.  Don’t dwell on this part for the marathon is not to be missed. (If you can’t do an entire marathon, rent Throw Mama From The Train and cut yourself some slack.) Take a nap. Feeling alone is tiresome. Eat some pasta – calories never count on Christmas Day. Get your work clothes ready for tomorrow. Do some laundry. Return to the marathon. It’s almost over.

I wouldn’t steer you wrong.  I survived and am now only too happy to share the details of how I did it. A perk of being part of this Cool Mona society where Seekers and Strugglers support each other and share lessons that were learned the hard way.

Merry Christmas, from me to you. And yes, I know that you have somewhere to go.